Barnet Trades Council review of 2018

am writing on behalf of Barnet Trades Union Council to report on our activities and ask your union branch to affiliate for the new year.

For our trades council, 2018 has been dominated by one crucial issue: the crisis of outsourcing giant Capita amidst the collapse of similar companies, starting with Carillion. Carillion’s demise set the stage for a renewed offensive against Tory outsourcing in our borough, and thanks to strong solidarity from the shadow chancellor, we set about gaining support in our communities for kicking out Capita from Barnet.

Barnet TUC activists succeeded in passing motions calling for outsourcing to be reversed in two out of the three Constituency Labour Parties in Barnet and participated actively in Labour’s local election campaign. Unfortunately, Barnet, like a lot of the country, did not have an election with a strong local debate about austerity and simply did not see the turnout we needed. To our deep disappointment, the Tories won the local council yet again. Their victory, however, was soon to be marred by issues that resulted from their own failed policies. A particular irony is that they had significantly gained votes last minute by claiming that Labour would not protect bin collection, only for them to cut this themselves due to their own inadequate refuse policies – an issue we had been campaigning on in February!

We didn’t mourn after the election, we organised. We got John McDonnell to come to Barnet to relaunch the Barnet Alliance for Public Services (BAPS) as a non-partisan campaign to #kickoutcapita. The launch meeting in May was a huge success and we mobilised both at council meetings and Capita’s AGM. The tide of opinion was clearly turning against both the Conservatives and Capita by June’s Policy and Resource committee of the council.

We continued the pressure as the year went on, having an excellent (and star-studded) public enquiry at Parliament on the 6th of November. Events moved quicker even than we expected, as it was exposed that Capita’s hopeless culture of corporate unaccountability had enabled an employee to commit a massive fraud. Barnet Council was forced to conduct an enquiry, then did not want to make the findings public. We demanded and succeeded in getting them to reverse this decision. We saw the year out by doing pro-public services carolling at Hendon Town Hall, ready to keep going next year and until we force Barnet council to reverse the disaster of outsourcing.

Other protests and events we have been helping to organise:

  • On the 11th January, we mobilised for a protest of local parking workers to get their service returned to the public sector at the council’s planning meeting
  • In February, we organised solidarity collections for striking higher education workers.
  • Also in February, we started a campaign to highlight the Tory council’s neglect of bin and rubbish collection services, months before this became a borough-wide scandal (as mentioned).
  • Again in February, we petitioned alongside our postal workers to save North Finchley post office.
  • In March, Jeremy Corbyn was able to highlight our struggle over Capita in a question in Parliament.
  • In May we mobilised solidarity with hospitality workers striking to organise their sector, as well as for the TUC demonstration.
  • We delivered large delegations for the NHS 70 demo in June as well as for the counter-demonstration to the far-right lead by “Tommy Robinson”.
  • In August, we supported fundraising for precarious cleaning staff in the Ministry of Justice and the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea
  • In September we worked with BAPS to have an excellent public meeting with the London Renters Union and Grenfell activists on housing.
  • Also in September, we stood in solidarity with the Cricklewood Islamic centre after a shocking racist attack.
  • In October, we supported the McStikers once again up the road from McDonald’s headquarters in Finchley.
  • On the 20th of November we mobilised for the for the March for Education.
  • Throughout the year we had a presence at the monthly Grenfell Silent Walks.

Information about more our activities is available on our website.