Category Archives: Statement

Statement from BTUC and BAPS on Capita at Brent Council

Barnet Trades Council and Barnet Alliance for Public Services are concerned and dismayed that Brent Council wants to renew its contract with Capita. Our experience of Capita is that it has delivered appalling service and therefore we, together with our local Labour Party, are campaigning for all services run by Capita for Barnet to be brought in-house forthwith. #kickoutcapita is our grass-roots campaign.

Examples of Capita’s misdemeanours in Barnet include:

  • A two million pound fraud carried out by a Capita employee, Capita’s lax and opaque processes completely failed to detect
  • A call centre which has consistently failed to answer residents’ calls in the required time
  • Incorrectly withdrawing travel passes from disabled and vulnerable people
  • Actually cost taxpayers more money than in-house services would, through extra charges and “gainshare” payments designed to maximise their profits at public expense
  • Performed extremely poorly in audits of the council and brought down the overall standards of council services

We urge Brent Council not to renew its contract with Capita. Capita, along with other failed and failing outsourcing giants like Carillion and Interserve have proved to be entirely failed models. We want to Kick Out Capita from Barnet and bring all services back in-house and under local democratic control. Brent Council should do likewise. The shadow chancellor, John McDonnell has spoken brilliantly about how properly funded, democratically accountable in-sourced public services are the future for the country and we agree. Together we are stronger.

Unite’s campaign to end bandit capitalism

Unite has launched a campaign to tackle bandit capitalism and stop Carillion-style collapses.

Unite is fighting to ensure that the untold human misery of being dumped out of work without warning caused by such collapses is tackled once and for all.

As part of the campaign Unite has produced the Ending bandit capitalism: learning the lessons following Carillion’s collapse blueprint to end vulture capitalists ruining public services and destroying livelihoods and to stop “too big to fail” outsourcing firms like Carillion imploding.

The blueprint contains a package of measures designed to introduce better regulations and stricter rules to prevent companies being able to embellish their accounts and provide an entirely false trading position – actions that had disastrous consequences for Carillion and its workforce.

Since Carillion’s collapse Unite has led the way in calling for action to be taken to bring those responsible for the company’s collapse to justice. Unite has called for a public inquiry into Carillion’s collapse and an immediate criminal investigation into those responsible.

Write to your MP calling on them to introduce legislation that adopts Unite’s recommendations, which include:

• Requiring directors to focus on the long-term welfare of the company rather than short-term profits

• New rules which bar companies from prioritising dividends, bonuses and director’s pay over reducing pension deficits

• A stop to the government awarding contracts to companies in financial difficulties

• Long-term support from the government for sub-contractors and supply chains if a major company collapses

• Radical reform of the entire financial regulatory system, with the number of regulators being reduced and those that remain being given real power and teeth

• An end to the current outsourcing culture, with contracts being brought back in house at the earliest opportunity

• A transformation of employment laws to ensure unions have access to workforces to organise workers and prevent exploitation

• A reduction of the number of legal hurdles that must be cleared before cases taken for workers employed by a company in compulsory liquidation can go forward

Jeremy Corbyn: The people need an election

The Brexit deal Theresa May has negotiated is a bad deal and Labour will vote against it next week.

If the government can’t pass its most important legislation then there must be a general election.

The real divide in our country is not between those who voted to remain in the EU and those who voted to leave. It’s between the many – who do the work, create the wealth and pay taxes – and the few – who set the rules, reap the rewards and so often dodge taxes.

I put it like this: if you’re living in Tottenham, you may well have voted to remain. You’ve got high bills, rising debts, you’re in insecure work, you struggle to make your wages stretch, you may be on Universal Credit and forced to use a food bank. You’re up against it.

If you’re living in Mansfield, you’re likely to have voted to leave. You’ve got high bills, rising debts, you’re in insecure work, you struggle to make your wages stretch, you may be on Universal Credit and forced to use a food bank. You’re up against it.

But you’re not against each other.

Only Labour can bring people together based on their common interests. Whether they voted to leave or remain, people know that the system isn’t working for them.

Because it’s a system rigged against the many, to protect the interests of the few – that’s the real cause of inequality and insecurity in Tottenham, Mansfield and across the country.

That’s why an election is so urgent – and why we must win it. And what will make the difference? Your campaigning and your energy.

So in a speech today in Wakefield, I sent the prime minister a message: if you’re so confident in your deal, call the election, and let the people decide.

But if you don’t, Labour will table a motion of no confidence in the government, at the moment when we judge it has the best chance of success.

If we can’t get an election, then we’ll keep all options on the table, including campaigning for a public vote, as our members decided at Conference last September.

But an election is the best outcome because it enables us to tackle the Tories’ cuts to public services, their awful Universal Credit, rising homelessness, and all the other issues that are damaging our communities.

Together, we have the chance to transform our country for the many, not the few.

Thailand: Railway workers fight for justice – support the online campaign

The leaders of Thailand’s State Railway Workers Union (SRUT) have faced dismissals and enormous fines because of their efforts to point out unsafe working conditions on the country’s railways.

In a story dating back to a fatal derailment back in 2009, the international trade union movement, including the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) have stood by the trade union leaders — as has the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

Last year, Thailand’s Supreme Labour Court ordered seven union leaders to pay damages amounting to nearly three-quarters of a million US dollars.

At the request of the SRUT and the ITF, LabourStart has launched a campaign calling on the Thai government and the employer to drop the claims against the union, and to return their back pay and benefits.  Please show your support here:

http://www.labourstart.org/go/srut

And please share this message with your friends, family and fellow union members.

Show your solidarity to TUC Bookmarks bookshop after fascist attack

Far right attack TUC Bookmarks bookshop just days after Tommy Robinson release…
Time to build a mass movement against the racist and fascist right
The last few days have proved just how important it is to build a mass movement against racism and fascism in Britain.
The attack on Saturday by far right extremists on the TUC’s bookshop Bookmarks in Central London shows that these people are gaining in confidence in the wake of Tommy Robinson’s release on bail.
Ex leader of the violent and racist English Defence League and former BNP member Robinson has become a rallying point for the whole of racist right, with money flooding in from the US Alt-right to back him.
Across the spectrum Nazi groups, Alt-right figures, the Democratic Football Lads Alliance (DFLA) and UKIP believe they can build a racist movement in Britain just like their friends in the US and Europe have done.
The ‘free Tommy’ campaign was marked by a rising levels of violence as anti-racists and trade unionists have been attacked by his supporters. Stand Up To Racism has launched an important statement opposing the Robinson and the growth of the far right signed by MP’s, trade unionists, campaigners and faith leaders. You can add your name here please share it widely for others to sign.
Now in true Nazi style they’ve turned on a bookshop! The images of book burnings in Germany from the 1930’s show where all this can end up. TUC General secretary Francis O’Grady said; “This is another sinister reminder of the grwoing confidence of the far right”.
Stand Up To Racism needs your help to beat the far right back. Here’s what you can do:
  • Join Saturday’s solidarity event at Bookmarks this Saturday at 2pm, 1 Bloomsbury Street, WC1B 3QE more event details here Rush messages of support to Bookmarks info@bookmarksbookshop.co.uk and Dave@bookmarksbookshop.co.uk or message on twitter @Bookmarks_books or to their facbook page here 
  • Make a donation to stand Up To Racism to help us organise the fightback against the racist and fascist right – donate here
  • Join Stand Up To Racism here

Barnet Labour Group statement on the Resources Committee

Barnet Council has agreed that terminating the two Capita contracts will be fully tested and considered in a Full Business Case looking at bringing Capita-run services in-house. The decision was made at the Policy & Resources Committee on 19 July which discussed options to realign the Council’s relationship with Capita.

A report in the name of the Leader of the Council recommended ‘Option 2’ – preparing a Full Business Case to insource a limited number of Capita-run services such as Highways, Estates, HR and Finance.

Barnet’s Labour councillors proposed that ‘Option 3’  – which would bring the partnership with Capita to an end – should be included in the Full Business Case to ensure that councillors had all the evidence and flexibility to make a final decision. This was conceded by the Conservative councillors.

Full statement.

Option 3 – Tories taken to task over Capita!

Tory councillors, forced to review their outsourcing arrangements with failling privateers Capita due the scale of the disaster, walked away with their tales between their legs after a mauling at town hall Resources Committee. Barnet Alliance for Public Services activists and Labour councillors, who held a lively rally outside before the meeting. By the end, the Conservatives had been forced to carry out a fully analysis of the costs and possibilities of kicking out Capita all together.

In the meeting itself, the Tories were virtually lost for words, as they have reneged on almost everything they had said in the local elections in May. After pledging to maintain low council tax, they are now looking to make the largest tax rises allowed in law. When it was pointed out that they had frozen council taxes for years, and that council officers’ reports had shown that funding was in trouble months ago. they responded by pathetically appealing to the Labour group and residents not to “hark on about the past” and then trying to blame the economic policies of Gorden Brown in the same breath!

The preferred solution for this crisis-ridden administration was to do a partial reversion of services back t public control, which would have left Capita with those elements of services that are mostly profitable to them. By the end of the meeting, they were forced to conceed that no option for in-sourcing should be off the table in order to save our borough. This a massive step forward for our movement!

See a good report on the meeting in the Barnet Times here.

Financial Meltdown in Barnet – Read Mr Reasonable

FULL POST HERE.

Yesterday Barnet published the agenda for the Policy & Resources committee next Monday which you can read here.  I am used to surprises but this one was gobsmacking. I blogged just a couple of weeks ago about the parlous state of Barnet’s finances including the Medium Term Financial Strategy  (MTFS) published in February. Yesterday Barnet published a revised MTFS.

So whereas in February they were forecasting a shortfall of £2.79 million in 2018/19 they are now forecasting a £9.5 million shortfall and in 2019/20 the shortfall jumps from £8.2 million to £19.3 million all in the space of four months. The long term prospects are apocalyptic with a shortfall of £42 million in 2021/22 and by 2023/24 a “high level calculation” showing a shortfall of £62 million. This means the council can no longer exist in its current form.

I simply cannot believe that in February – before the election – no one was aware of just how bad the financial situation was, in which case were the electorate misled?

Tube Strikes Wednesday 6 June and Thursday 14 June

ASLEF attended talks at ACAS with London Underground to try to find a way to resolve the disputes on the Jubilee line and at Acton Town on the District line. Strike action has been called for next Wednesday 6 June and Thursday 14 June.

Finn Brennan, ASLEF’s organiser on the Underground, said: ‘As always, we will go to these talks with an open mind and prepared to seek agreement. Until now, management have refused to meet with us on these issues and it is understandable that our reps and members suspect that their last-minute change of heart means they are simply “going through the motions”; turning up for talks but unwilling to change their hard-line stance.

 

‘The issues at the centre of these separate disputes are the imposition of new duty schedules that break commitments on weekend working on the Jubilee line, and the failure to follow agreed procedures on the District line, are symptomatic of a management style that seems to relish confrontation instead of trying to work with trade unions to solve problems.

 

‘We hope that management will make a genuine effort to solve these disputes with us tomorrow and avoid disruption.’

Barnet Trades Union Council Statement on Local Election Results 2018

Barnet TUC notes with dismay that the Tories have won yet again in our borough, despite running a dysfunctional and discredited administration that has and will cause misery to large numbers of people. Despite broadly positive results in the rest of London and a slight vote increase since 2014, Labour did not succeed in unseating conservative councillors. Our movement now has to face four more years of serious attacks on the conditions of working class people, and we have no time to lose in organising for this.

It is shocking that this viciously rightwing administration has survived. The extreme version of public service cuts and privatisation that the Tories have pursued under a variety of glossy buzz phrases, such as “easycouncil” and “One Barnet”, have resulted in an overblown, under-bid contract with the failing outsourcing giant Capita. The threat that a Carillion-style collapse of Capita could potentially take our essential services down with them was so serious that earlier this year that a question was raised about it in Parliament. There have been myriad other stories, many of them concerning massive mismanagement by the uncaring Tories and their outsourcers, but probably the most horrific was last year’s Oftstead report into children’s services in Barnet. The regulator found that the council was entirely inadequate in all levels, including the protection of vulnerable children. The increased suffering of the vulnerable is the inevitable and greatest cost of the extreme, market-driven ideology of Barnet Conservatives.

With such a dire leadership, the Tories should not have been unbeatable, and we in Barnet TUC believe they were not. In some ways, we have suffered from problems that had been seen in other parts of the country, as Labour did not make many of the big gains that had been hoped for. Writing The Times, Dr Faiza Shaheen of the leftwing thinktank Centre for Labour and Social Studies, had this analysis of the big picture:

…The 2017 general election perhaps gives us better ideas about how to move forward. General elections provide the opportunity for political parties to lay out their policy agenda for the UK. The Labour Party’s manifesto resonated with voters and it showed in the end election result. During local election campaigning I noticed a distinct change in our approach: I had less to offer on the doorstep and ideas were missing from the national conversation. I think it is fair to say that neither Labour nor the Conservatives have been offering a positive vision for the UK in recent weeks.

There were some issues that didn’t get the airtime expected, most notably the scale of cuts to local authority budgets. A recent report by the National Audit Office found that since 2010 local authorities have seen an average reduction in funding of 49.1 per cent. Weirdly these cuts were spoken about continuously during the general election campaign but not during the local elections. It seems that voters failed to make the connection with poorer local service provision, including social care, and Conservative party policy. Yet many voters, including a majority of Conservatives, feel that public spending cuts have gone too far.

Barnet Labour’s local election strategy was not significantly influenced by the 2017 manifesto or campaign. It had six pledges, some of which were very neutral-sounding (“Low council tax”, “Better roads” and “Free parking”) and did not tap into anti-austerity feeling. This was in strong contrast to the sort of themes that had played well in the general election. The unions, led by local government Unison (which organises the largest group of workers affected by the Capita crisis) had brought well-worded proposals on cuts and outsourcing to all three constituency parties. There were also excellent proposals on how to campaign around the issues by respected bloggers like Mr Reasonable. The councillor group rejected all this good advice.

In a bitter absurdity, the Tories realised that Labour’s service campaign was weak and did a completely dishonest, but highly effective, attack on that flank. A leaflet was distributed throughout key wards claiming that Labour would not only put up council tax, but change bin collections from weekly to fortnightly. For impact, they illustrated with this with a picture of an overflowing wheelie bin being raided by a fox. Neither of these claims about Labour policy were at all true, but with only around 48 hours before polling and no existing material on services such as bin collection prepared by Labour, it was very difficult to counter. Further panels on the leaflet utilised misleading statistics to pretend that Barnet is doing well in both affordable housing and education, which was also totally untrue but added up to a very clever attack. This demobilised the Labour vote and allowed the Conservatives to absurdly win on the very issues they should have been weakest on! And so, the Tories won with complete rubbish – in every sense of the word.

A lot of the national debate on Barnet has focused on anti-Semitism and perceptions of it in Labour in particular. The council group completely failed to defend Labour’s positive record on racism and allowed the narrative on anti-Semitism to completely overshadow the media narrative on the election. We believe that anti-Semitism absolutely needs to be fought, but there needs to be a discussion about all the racism that has been manifested recently: and this has to include the victimisation of Black Britons over the Windrush scandal, the alarming rise of Islamophobic stunts like “Punish a Muslim Day” and the recent mobilisation of thousands by the far right “Football Lads Alliance”. There needs to be a renewed anti-racist movement and Barnet TUC will do whatever it takes help make one happen.

However, we will also need a renewed offensive against the Tory council. Our public sector workers and those members of the public who depend upon them will once again have to form a resistance to what will doubtless be an even more hard-line set of policies. There will very likely be industrial action, but in the shorter term and from now on, we also need to wage a strong propaganda campaign. The Tories stole victory by lying about their intentions, and we must expose them every time they put private profit ahead of people’s needs.

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