Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Working to rule is good #2: Barnet parking service

Unison members in Barnet's Parking Service are the latest group of workers to join the work-to-rule. They are objecting to being forced into employment with a private company as part of the One Barnet Programme.

I am not a driver and probably understand the parking service very little. I do know that the work-to-rule means that the staff will only do their allotted hours, not overtime. I have heard that each member of staff has been taken to one side and spoken to by management, told that if they joined the industrial action they could kiss goodbye to any overtime in the future.

When the union movement was numerically and industrially stronger it had a position of opposing overtime. The reasons are clear:
1. overtime has the potential to lead to overwork and harm health;
2. employers should be hiring more staff if there is more work to do - this would benefit the unemployed;
3. accepting overtime tends to undermine the fight for better basic pay.

We are where we are, however. The 'suggestion' made to the parking staff by Barnet management is clearly intended to scare them out of their industrial action. It's shameful stuff. I wonder what pay the management who are acting this way are on.

The union, Unison, should stick to its guns. Parking staff are not the most popular public servants, but imagine a privatised parking service: use of targets for issuing tickets is likely to be greatly extended. (I understand something like a 'target' culture is already in place in Barnet.)

I understand that many tickets can be appealed, but people don't usually have the time.

I send all my solidarity to the parking staff! Many of them have worked for private companies before and already know that private companies pay worse and offer worse conditions of service. Parking staff are a welcome addition to the growing army of Barnet staff fighting the One Barnet Programme - no to easyCouncil!

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