Sunday, 14 August 2011
Revenues and benefits picket #2
Today (Saturday) was a full day! I got up at 6am to go and support Barnet Unison branch's picket line.
Their members in Revenues and Benefits are currently working to rule, which means they don't do overtime, or duties beyond what it says in their contracts. This is part of their campaign against being transfered, against their will, to employment by whichever private sector company wins the contract for this work under the One Barnet Programme (aka easyCouncil).
It was drizzling this morning, but there was a bigger turnout for this week's picket than for last week's. We were pleased that we got to speak to some of those who are breaking the strike by doing overtime on a Saturday. It seems that their efforts are making scarcely any dent in the backlog of work that is building up.
Five staff went to work last Saturday. The workforce is about 140, supplemented with 50-odd agency staff. Pretty much the same people went in this week.
The agency staff had initially been brought in to clear a backlog arising from problems with the new computer system. They have been kept on by the council almost certainly in order to undermine the industrial action. They are costing £9,000 a day or £45,000 a week or £2,340,000 p.a. (figures: Mr Mustard blog).
Apparently some of the agency staff who had been due to work last Saturday had second thoughts when they realised they would have to cross the picket line; perhaps that happened this week as well.
The council had got a bit tougher this week; there were three managers of sorts there, just inside the gates, to see what we got up to. In fact, all we wanted was the chance to speak to those going in and to hand them a leaflet asking them to think twice about what they are doing: undermining their own and their colleagues' future standard of living.
These staff are also being used by Barnet council's Conservative administration to push through a privatisation programme which is highly likely to save residents no money whatever. A programme, then, that looks more and more as though it is driven purely by dogma.
Who else was at the Business Park this morning? Oh, yes, six Police and Community Support Officers, stationed in front of the gate. They pretty much left us alone.
One man driving in accelerated as he took the corner into the Business Park. Very dangerous for the pickets and the residents who had come to support them: stupid behaviour.
I took some pictures of the picket line action today, and added it to my Revs and Bens album on Flickr.
After the picket, I went to Hackney for the "Give our kids a future!" march, which went from Dalston to Tottenham. The march was organised by anti-cuts campaigners from two of the boroughs worst affected by this week's riots. But I'll have to blog about that anon, it being late now! Suffice to say, for now, that it was - on the whole - a positive experience.
P.S. I trust Mr Hope is pleased with the increased turnout this week! I know how much he likes to see mass pickets!