John Burgess writes:
Whilst we have tried hard to support and represent our members the last 9 years have been painful, fun, tiring but invigorating but most of all it has been a privilege to have belonged to Barnet UNISON branch.
Austerity introduced mass outsourcing to our members and residents. I have never been prouder than when I have been at committee meetings with hundreds of residents or with residents with hundreds of questions.
Our members have had the courage to give it a go. To get up off our knees and at least stand up for what is right.
Sometimes we have lost and sometimes we have won, that is the way it is in Barnet UNISON.
But we can always look back and say that we have not gone missing.
We don’t leave anyone behind, even when we lost the big outsourcing to Capita and hundreds of our members were later made redundant as their jobs were scattered to the four winds. We stayed and supported, represented our members and we won some compensation for some of those who lost their jobs.
We can always say we didn’t avoid difficult decisions and we don’t run from a fight, we organise and we lead but always it must be the members who decide when and for how long we fight.
Outsourcing and job cuts has had a detrimental impact on worker and I have observed the workplace has become toxic environment. I point to the consultant’s catch phrase “More for less” as one of the most insidious and unhelpful jargon to emerge over the last decade.
“More for less” has in my opinion has contributed directly to “unsustainable and unsafe” work places; we are only just beginning to see the impact on workers mental health and wellbeing.
Over the past decade we have seen a high burn out of UNISON reps simply because the challenges and pressures that mass outsourcing brings are too much.
I have always believed in taking responsibility where you can and for me that has been in the London Borough of Barnet.
I have worked with so many wonderful and creative people both inside and outside UNISON. I have gained so much more from being in their company and most importantly listening and learning to what they have said or done.
It is in recognition of this experience and in an attempt to reflect on what has happened and think about my future and the future of the branch I have put together a film montage of the last decade in the life of Barnet UNISON. The film opens with Fremantle Care workers and campaign that shocked me and a campaign that still troubles me deeply nearly 9 years after it began. Their fight and the draconian cuts were later to be followed by the heroic Care UK 90 day strikers and our very own Your Choice Barnet care workers campaign.
Anyway enough from me.
The short film is just under 20 minutes long so make sure you have a nice drink, comfy seat you might have a few surprises from a few guest appearances.
Barnet Trades Council commissioned Tim Sanders (cartoonist) & Hettie Griffiths (Film Editor) to produce this animation to show how Austerity is having an impact on our Public Services
Saturday the 9th of May was a wonderful uplifting celebration and coming together of diverse Community Groups in Barnet with one common goal, Save Barnet Libraries.
Special mention should go to:
London Metropolitan Brass for helping to provide the party atmosphere with terrific music.
Barnet Alliance for Public Services, stalwart community activists.
Keith Nason,Barnet NUT, for supplying a wonderful vintage double decker bus
And John Burgess, Barnet Unison LG, for inspiration, organization, energy and drive.