London

Barnet Council staff walk out over outsourcing plan

Workers at a north London council have gone on strike in protest at plans to outsource employees and services.

Unison said about 400 members at Barnet Council were expected to take part in the one-day walkout. The council said 148 people had not turned up for work.

Highways and planning staff are among those taking strike action over the move they claim will put jobs and quality of services at risk.

The council said it was disappointed by the action, by a small number of staff.

The union claims the jobs of 70% of employees at the Conservative-run council would be put at risk if the plans go ahead.

Unison members want to remain employed by the authority and receive the associated terms and conditions.

'Reckless plans'

In March, Barnet Council approved a plan to save £53.4m over three years, with £29.1m to be saved in 2011-12, reducing the net budget for the year to £255m.

About 350 posts out of 3,500 were said "to be at risk".

Linda Perks, Unison's London regional secretary, said: "Barnet Council continues to push through reckless plans that gamble with the future of hundreds of staff and the vital services they provide.

"A huge amount of money will be wasted during the procurement process through payments to consultants, shareholders, and in contract costs.

"This cash should be invested in local people and in keeping vital services running."

'Generous offer'

The union claims the council had already sold off a number of services, and has now put several contracts, with a total value of £2bn, out for consultation with the private sector.

Last year the authority made about 145 people redundant.

It said all staff in services moving to a new employer would be able to remain in the local government pension scheme and their terms and conditions would be protected for at least one year after leaving the council's employment.

The leader of the council, Richard Cornelius, said: "We made a very generous offer that would have protected membership of the local government pension scheme along with other measures for those staff who may have transferred to another employer.

"I am disappointed that Unison have rejected that offer."

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