Unite, the country’s largest union, is balloting its members at Tory-controlled Bromley council for strike action over the authority’s plans to slash its directly employed workforce from 3,000 to just 300 as part of its privatisation drive.
Unite accused the council of wanting ‘to privatise everything it does not have a legal duty to provide directly’.
Unite has about 400 members working for the council – from childcare staff to library assistants, but will only be balloting those directly employed by the council who number about 100, and not those already working for private companies on the council’s behalf.
The ballot for strike action opens on 11 March and closes 27 March.
Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said: “Unite is drawing a line in the sand over the drive by this Tory council hell-bent on privatising and outsourcing much valued public services, such as libraries.
"The council has declared war on public services, public service workers and the trade unions. It is not acting on behalf of residents.
“We have been out every Saturday meeting residents to discuss the cuts. Our library consultation has seen hundreds of residents returning responses making clear that they do not want a private company running libraries, nor do they want a volunteer-run service as proposed by councillors.
“The intention is to go from 3,000 staff directly employed at present to just 300. We believe that private outsourcing companies would then employ staff on much reduced pay and terms and conditions.
“We believe this cost-cutting exercise won’t benefit the people of Bromley, as this is a race to the bottom in terms of quality and service-delivered.
“We have offered to discuss a ‘procurement strategy’ to safeguard service quality, but the council has refused.
“Unite’s strategy would place an emphasis on quality rather than cost-cutting. The council’s proposals will hit the most vulnerable members of the community.
"There is no time left to lose - the council is arrogantly pushing ahead and destroying services. That is why we are now balloting our members for strike action."
For further information please contact Unite regional officer Onay Kasab on 07771818637 or the Unite press office on 020 3371 2065.
Notes to editors:
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.