Around 200 workers employed by Tory-controlled Barnet council in north London joined a lively town hall lobby on Tuesday of this week. They are angry at plans to slash services and privatise whole departments.
Under the plans, called “Future Shape” by the bosses but dubbed “easyCouncil” by the workers, users will pay extra for each service they use.
Trade unionists from the GMB and Unison unions fear that thousands of jobs could be lost and vital services will be irreparably damaged.
“I work with some of the most vulnerable people in our society—people with disabilities. My fear is that these cuts will mean that we can no longer provide them with a service,” said Francis, who work in adult social services.
“That could leave them stuck in their homes for days on end, totally isolated and unable to play a part in society. It will also put a lot of stress on carers. Out of 17 family centres in the borough, 12 are threatened with closure.”
Francis said that though she worried about the future, she was buoyed by support from fellow trade unionists, as local tube workers, teachers and firefighters had joined the lobby too.
Greg Edwards from the local FBU union was among them.
“I’m here with a delegation of local firefighters to show solidarity,” he told Socialist Worker. “We are engaged in a battle with our boss, Brian Coleman, who happens to be a Tory councillor here too.
“We are all facing similar attacks. People need to stick together if they’re going to win.”
Greg pointed to the collapse of the Connaught firm, which managed housing repairs for a variety of councils, including Barnet, as a reason why services should not be outsourced to the private sector.
Connaught workers in Barnet were informed by a conference telephone call this week that they were all sacked as the firm had gone into administration.
Workers in Barnet are vowing to keep up their fight with a programme of meetings and demonstrations.
It will take serious action to stop the cuts. The workers are already being balloted over threats to slash their redundancy scheme to the minimum allowed by law.