Austin Macauley 09 April 2015

Strike looms in Barnet over outsourcing ‘obsession’

Some 87% of union members at Barnet Council have voted in favour of strike action in protest against plans to outsource key services.

Unison said the ballot was a direct response to a council meeting where five commissioning projects were agreed. The move will mean outsourcing the majority of the workforce, the union has claimed.

Barnet Council is looking for new ways to deliver education and skills and school meals services, its library service, children’s centres, adult social care and street scene services.

The prospect of strike action comes at a time when industrial action is expected in several other London boroughs, including Hackney, Bromley and Croydon.

Unison branch secretary John Burgess said: ‘The vote was never in doubt. The workforce in Barnet is amazing and resilient workforce. The vote confirms that that our members have had enough of the ideological obsession with outsourcing.

‘The council does not value the workforce which can be seen when unpaid overtime and long hours are never recognised when putting together bids for outsourcing projects. The fact that the council refuses to run in-house comparators has made it clear to our members that their future employment with the council is threatened.’

A Barnet Council spokesperson said: ‘The council faces a £90m budget gap by 2020 and a 50% reduction in its spending power by the end of the decade compared with the start.

‘This means that we can’t continue with the status quo and we have to look at how local services are designed and delivered, although no decisions have been taken about any alternative delivery arrangements.’

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