Labour conference warned about bandit capitalism in councils, with Bromley library workers the latest victims
- Sunday 22 September 2019
Bromley’s libraries are the latest victims of rapacious outsourcers, leaving librarians at the mercy of bandit capitalism, Unite, the UK and Ireland’s largest union, will warn today (Sunday 22 September) at Labour party conference.
The warning that bandit capitalists are holding local authorities to ransom will come at a fringe meeting which will be addressed by both Jeremy Corbyn the leader of the Labour Party and shadow chancellor John McDonnell as well as Andrew Gwynne the shadow secretary of state for communities and local government.
WHAT: Tackling Bandit Capitalism on your doorstep, insourcing public services
WHEN: Sunday 22 September, 17:30 – 19:00
WHERE: The Empress Room, Grand Hotel, Brighton
The library workers have been transferred to Greenwich Leisure Ltd (GLL) which is officially a ‘social enterprise,’ but whose managing director Mark Sesnan is paid well in excess of £200,000 a year.
GLL has been winning many local government contracts in leisure and library services initially in London, and now throughout England and in Northern Ireland. It has a model of bidding low for contracts and then cutting the staff headcount and sharply reducing workers’ pay and conditions.
Strikes since June
Library workers in Bromley have been on continuous strike action since 6 June, in protest at the rising number of vacancies in the service, which was making it impossible to maintain existing services.
At the first negotiation meeting in the dispute finally held last week (Thursday 19 September), GLL finally revealed its hand and showed that it plans to reduce frontline posts from 85 posts to 55 posts, a 35 per cent reduction. It is understood that a further 10-15 back office roles will also be cut.
At the meeting GLL’s management also admitted that the cuts were a result of the fact that GLL had made a very low bid in order to secure the contract and defeat the in-house bid.
Unite believes that it will be impossible for GLL to keep all of Bromley’s 14 libraries open due to the cut in staff.
Unite will now be stepping up its campaign to pressurise GLL to reverse its plan to cut Bromley library staff. Among many activities Unite will be targeting bodies affiliated to GLL including the diver Tom Daley and Sports Aid UK.
The union will also be writing to all councillors in local authorities which has let contracts to GLL asking them not to renew the contracts when they come up for renewal.
Undermining local councils
Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: “Bandit capitalism is undermining the entire ethos of local authorities, with profits being put before services.
“Bandit capitalism comes in many forms and GLL is the prime example of how ‘social enterprises’ involved in local authority outsourcing are every bit as bad as the private sector, in slashing staff numbers, degrading pay and conditions and destroying services.”
Local authorities have been encouraged and coerced to outsource services by successive governments. The fringe meeting will hear how some councils are increasingly insourcing core functions in order to improve services and reduce costs.
As part of Unite’s fringe councillors from across the UK will describe how and why their council has brought services back in house.
Gail Cartmail added: “It is time that councils fought back against the outsourcers.
“Councils up and down the UK are already ensuring that vital frontline services are being brought back under the council’s roof.
“Every assistance needs to be given to increase the insourcing of local authority and public sector services.
“The primary motive of councils must be about delivering vitally needed services to local residents and not lining the pockets of private sector directors and their shareholders.”
Notes to editors:
For more information please contact Unite communications officer Barckley Sumner on 020 3371 2067 or 07802 329235.
Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey..