UNISONActive is an unofficial blog produced by UNISON activists for UNISON activists. Bringing news, briefings and events from a progressive left perspective.

Friday, 15 February 2013

Petition launched against food safety sell-off

As the meat scandal deepens, Barnet activists have launched a timely petition against privatisation of environmental health and trading standards. Sign it at http://www.avaaz.org/

  Meanwhile UNISON has published far-reaching investigation called 'The Damage' into the impact of the government’s austerity measures on both services.

The union has written to councils publicising the report outlining findings like environmental health has seen a total of 1,272 jobs lost, the knock-on effect being that 2011/12 saw a 15% reduction in enforcement notices issued; a 4% reduction in enforcement visits; and an 8% reduction in scheduled inspections.

Heather Wakefield, the union's head of local government, said: “The bitter irony of the government’s attack on these services is that, when they operate with adequate staff and resources, they actually benefit the economy. Trading standards services generate £6 of savings for every £1 that is spent on them, while environmental health services can help legitimate businesses flourish by ensuring they are safe and clean.”

In Barnet the campaign is being taken forward with the petition and 'Barnet Spring March to save our services' on 23 March, assembling at 11am at Finchley Central Station in London.

The petition says: "We are concerned that Barnet Council is about to hand over its Regulatory Services (in particular the Environmental Health and Trading Standards services) to a private company. Councils have statutory responsibilities to monitor the private sector in order to ensure the health and safety of their residents.

"The current high- profile national public-health scandal about processed foods emphasises that private companies do not adequately monitor their own activities, leaving the public at risk. If Barnet Council is allowed to privatise these services, it will set a dangerous precedent for other councils. We call for an immediate stop to the privatisation of council Regulatory Services throughout the country.

"The government is using Barnet Council as a pilot to privatise public services, leaving people without influence on policy through the ballot box and without a say in how their council is run and their council tax spent. We need to prevent the privatisation of Regulatory Services to ensure that councils fulfil their statutory duties to protect the health, and safety of residents."