Supporting Barnet union action against outsourcing

Early Monday morning I stood on the picket line at Barnet House to support Unison members on strike against outsourcing by the local council.

Public sector workers across London are facing budgets cuts, and some are being treated worse than others. I’m sorry to say that with its huge outsourcing plans, Barnet is one of the worst examples.

Here’s my statement of support:

Public sector workers across London are facing budgets cuts from their local councils. Some are being treated worse than others and I’m sorry to say that Barnet is one of the worst examples. Your stance against them today is fully justified.

As a councillor, I have been supporting workers resisting cuts and fighting for fair pay and conditions in my own borough of Camden – particularly school catering staff, home-care workers and parking enforcement officers – and I have no hesitation in offering my support to Unison members on strike in Barnet.

It’s the staff who deliver the services and it’s the same staff who are taking action to try and preserve those services, in the face of a constant drive to slash or privatise.

I’d like to express my gratitude for the action you are taking, and my solidarity with everyone on strike today on the other picket lines. Keep fighting your cause because it’s the cause of the public good, and I know we can win.

And a message from Caroline Lucas MP that I read out to the strikers:

“I am sorry I cannot be with you today. It’s good to know that, despite this Government’s attempts to silence the trade union movement, Unison in Barnet remain strong, unified and determined to take a stand against the decimation of public services.

Under the guise of austerity, central government is slowly but surely putting an end to local government as we know it. These cuts are economically illiterate as well as cruel.

Public spending is being slashed to the bone, whilst local government responsibilities increase. Slashed to the bone whilst demand for council services grows. And slashed to the bone whilst more and more people suffer from policies such as the bedroom tax, cuts to tax credits and the loss of benefits – policies that harm the poorest and most disadvantaged in society.

All as part of a concerted effort to roll back the state and drive our public services into the hands of the private sector.

Support for looked-after children, care-leavers, users of adult social care, older people, homeless people, low-income families in crisis, disabled people, those with special educational needs and emergency help to survivors of domestic violence.

These are all too important to lose and Barnet is a warning to anyone who thinks that packaging up local services and selling them off is a price worth paying.

This is how to demolish local government, not protect it. In Barnet you know the high human cost of what’s happening – the way jobs are being undermined, services outsourced and lives destroyed.

This Government talks about devolving power to local people but here, today, is what real people power looks like. The council needs to start listening to your voices and so does the Government.

Thank you for all you are doing and, as you keep up the fight, please be sure that Greens are with you every step of the way.”

Sian Berry with Barnet strikers