Monday, October 07, 2013

Barnet Not Fair?

Anyone reading this obscure little niche blog probably already knows that privatisation is a device to transfer money from workers and taxpayers to shareholders.

In a generation of struggles against this pernicious smash and grab raid on public services there have been few more inspiring chapters than the many written in years of battles fought by the workers, community (and bloggers) of the London Borough of Barnet.

Absent an effective national campaign to prevent privatisation (which will need a lot more from the Labour leadership than merely reshuffling Blairites into well-deserved, and doubtless well-remunerated, oblivion) the Barnet comrades were always, eventually, going to find themselves where they now are - with Capita threatening hundreds of redundancies as they shuffle local government jobs round the country.

Barnet UNISON can be proud, however, not only of their exemplary resistance but also of its results. The Union is still in there, representing members. Also, Tory Barnet have set the precedent of publishing the details of their contract with Capita (http://www.barnet.gov.uk/downloads/940431/customer_and_support_group_csg_formerly_nscso_contract).

Since the private sector can generally evade the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act to conceal their looting of the public pursue under the disreputable cloak of "commercial confidentiality" it is a critical victory to have compelled the publication of this contract.

If we are to turn the tide of this latter-day Thatcherism (which for a long time had engulfed the Labour Party and threatened to swamp the union movement) then we all need to follow Barnet UNISON with as much determination as we wish to prevent our employers from following Barnet Council.

For a start, let's ask every Labour Council to be at least as transparent as Barnet's uber-Tories. Let's have a clear commitment that every contract for the provision of local government services by a private company should always be a public document.

And that's just for a start.

The Directors and shareholders of companies like Capita must be subject to at least the same scrutiny as are Councillors and senior managers of local authorities.

We have to make this happen. The hundreds of Barnet workers facing sacking as private capital continues to pillage public services deserve at least this.

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

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