Thomas Bridge 20 April 2015

Further 14 days of strikes at council over ‘privatisation’ fears

A second wave of strikes is to hit a London borough, as both a trade union and the local Labour group hit out against outsourcing.

A mass walkout by Bromley Council employees over two days earlier this month will now be followed by a further 14 days of staggered strikes over the next two months, affecting services including libraries, care centres and parks.

Trade union Unite said the action would attempt to ‘stop and roll back the privatisation of council services,’ which it claimed had ‘failed’ the town hall over the past year.

The news came as the local Labour group accused the town hall of being ‘openly committed’ to becoming a ‘commissioning council’ and reducing numbers of council employees from 4,000 to 300.

Unite members voted by 87% to take strike action against privatisation of services at Bromley.

Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said that while the previous two days of action had been ‘inconvenient’ to local people, ‘the bigger picture is that if a stand is not made now against privatisation, there will be a gradual deterioration in what people have been used to expect from their council, leaving just a skeleton of services’.

‘Unite is, once more, drawing a line in the sand against privatisation and austerity in local government. Council services should be for the public good – and not be used as a milch cow for the private outsourcing companies benefiting from generous contracts,’ he added.

Strikes have this month also been staged by Unite at both Hackney and Croydon councils, with Unison members voting last Friday to stage two days of action at Barnet over outsourcing concerns.

Speaking before the industrial action earlier this month, a spokesperson for Bromley Council told LocalGov: ‘We are examining all our services and cost pressures to find the most effective and efficient way of delivering quality services which focus on those in the borough who need them most. This is not about “privatising everything” but looking at alternative cost models and service delivery options to provide the best value for money for Bromley taxpayers.’

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