Monday, August 15, 2011

Barnet - the front line in the defence of public services

UNISON members in Barnet are rightly calling to escalate their action as part of UNISON's trade dispute with the madcap Tory borough over their dogmatic insistence that local government workers cease to be local government workers - the branch is therefore wisely proposing co-ordinated action on 13 September, henceforth "Barnet Independence Day" (http://www.barnetunison.me.uk/?q=node/644).

Whilst I was sorry no one from Barnet could attend tomorrow's Lambeth Branch Committee to update us, I am pleased that the reason is that the branch is meeting with the Region who will, I am sure, endorse the prudent and reasonable course of action which is proposed.

Barnet Council has been trying to launch itself as a flagship for Cameron's "Thatcherism with a shiny face" and it is only the diligent work of the UNISON branch, with support in the trade union and labour movement and the wider community that has staved off mass privatisation thus far.

There are no better negotiators, wiser strategists or more cunning tacticians in our UNISON Region than are to be found in the lay leadership of the Barnet branch, singled out for praise in our General Secretary's keynote Conference speech just a few weeks ago.

Privatisation is an existential threat to public service trade unionism - and now poses an unprecedented challenge to our movement. It is the issue around which the history of UNISON in the second decade of the twenty first century will come to be written.

The main purpose of the attack upon public sector pensions from the point of view of the wealthy capitalists, who expect this Government to do their bidding even more enthusiastically than the last one, is to facilitate the privatisation of public services in order to create new opportunities for profit at the taxpayers' expense (which is why any "concessions" on contribution increases in the LGPS founded upon a belated recognition of their potential macroeconomic consequences provides no basis for any agreement).

It's all about privatisation (as is Lambeth's "co-operative council" as we warned - http://m.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/feb/25/council-cooperative-privatisation-barnet-lambeth?cat=commentisfree&type=article - and as much as its advocates might wish that were not so).

The defining struggle of the moment is the fight to defend public services, and UNISON members in Barnet find themselves on a strategically significant part of the front line.

They need, deserve and expect the wholehearted support of every UNISON member and official.

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

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