Socialist Worker

Barnet’s Tory council retreats from selloffs

by Raymie Kiernan
Issue No. 2554

Workers have been fighting privatisation at Barnet Council since 2015

Workers have been fighting privatisation at Barnet Council since 2015 (Pic: Socialist Worker)


Anti-cuts campaigners in Barnet were celebrating a breakthrough after the Tory-run north London council decided to keep its waste, recycling and street cleaning services in-house.

The decision last Thursday not to privatise “street scene” services has boosted activists.

John Burgess and Helen Davies, secretary and chair of the Barnet branch of the Unison union, spoke to Socialist Worker (pc).

John said the decision “marks the end” of a wave of outsourcing announced in 2015.

He said the threat to children’s centres, family and adult social work, and street scene services have “all gone away”.

Just three months ago street scene workers were gearing up to strike against privatisation.

The Tory council has pushed the idea that local authorities should not run services, but commission private firms to do so.

Stacked

Helen said, “We’ve had everything stacked against us, but we’ve worked hard with the trades council and Barnet Alliance for Public Services.

“We kept the pressure up and didn’t back off.”

There have been several waves of outsourcing, each met with strikes. Helen said solidarity from other trade unionists during those strikes “helped massively”.

“The commissioning council’s arguments have been exposed,” she said.

John said that more money was being spent on agency staff and consultants than the council promised.

“They spent £7.7 million on agencies and consultants in 2011 before the outsourcing.

“This year it was just under £20 million on agencies and consultants.”

He added, “Our next task is to tackle the contractors.”

John argued that while it’s “not the end of our battle” it is a lesson to “keep believing and keep organising”.


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