UNISON response to Future Shape rally



It was an incredible response from staff & Barnet residents on a bitter cold December evening……….hot drinks, mince pies and carol singing all helped fight off the cold.

So what happened in the meeting?

Well some of you may have seen or heard reports on the local TV & radio.


And a link to photos taken at the rally – http://photos.snapsthoughts.com/p352281318

It appears from listening to the Leader both on the TV and in the Cabinet Committee that the Trade Unions have jumped the gun.

The new public service model which is described in the report is “NOT about mass privatisation of the Council!”

That is good news….but it really is not clear in the report….we are not the only ones to apparently misunderstand the report. A Barnet resident sent the Cabinet report to the Plain English Campaign and this is their response:

Plain English Campaign’s assessment of Future Shape report discussed at Cabinet 3 December 2008:

 “I think your suggestion that the council is planning to introduce outsourcing is correct although when they couch their plans in such gobbledygook, it is hard to be certain.

 “Paragraph 4.3 seems to suggest that they are thinking of using ‘organisations other than the Council’ while paragraph 5.3 suggests staff could be transferred to other employers. And, the Council also seems to have considered the legal implications of what it is doing.

“In answer to your question about whether it is in plain (enough) English to serve the public interest, the answer is definitely not. From a plain English point of view, it is an awful document. It is so full of jargon and management speak that the message is hard to find. It is quite possible to write complicated stuff like this in plain English – in fact, as everyone is entitled to receiving information in plain English, it should be common practice to write clearly.

“Whether the Council is writing in this style to try to disguise what it is considering, or whether it is just a case of not thinking about the residents of the borough I can’t say. What I would do however is ask for the information in an appropriate style so that you, and all the other residents of the borough, are aware of quite major changes that could affect the way your council is run. And, as there seem to be huge implications for staff, I am sure they particularly need to be kept notified of what is happening.”

Councillors reaction

Barnet residents & Trade Union members came up to me and complained that they felt the councillor’s comments were rude and playing to the gallery. I am afraid that this has been a feature of both local and national politics for a long time. It is not surprising that there is such poor responses to consultations with the communities.

Wednesday 3 December 400 people felt motivated to find time to come along and take part in something we call democracy. Democracy means the right for individuals and organisations to lobby and give their views. Just because you don’t like what you read is not grounds for disrespecting other people’s views. What we saw tonight was deliberate misrepresentation of the trade unions’ report.

Clearly there is a serious lack communication not just with the trade unions but with staff and most importantly residents, I hope that rather than retreating behind party political jibes we are able to sit down and play an active part in the Future Shape programme. I would ask ALL staff not to feel disheartened but to take up the challenge and request YOUR Future Shape meeting in your workplace. According to the time table we have just under 5 months for the Council to thoroughly assess what it is doing now and how it might change?

Staff, residents and the Trade Unions are waiting for the next phase of consultation to begin!