Council workers strike over privatisation of children’s services

Members of Unison, GMB and Unite in Sandwell Council, West Midlands, voted overwhelmingly in favour of the strike action, in response to the decision to set up a private children’s trust.

Earlier this year it was decided that Sandwell’s struggling children’s services department, rated as ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted in June 2015, would be taken over by an independent trust.

The move was based on recommendations made by commissioner Eleanor Brazil, who was drafted in to oversee Sandwell’s children’s services.


However, 97% of UNISON members voted for a strike in a ballot against the changes. GMB members voted 100% to strike and Unite 87%.

The trade unions in Sandwell have now informed the government’s appointed commissioner of their intention to strike.

Tony Barnsley, joint branch secretary for Sandwell Unison said: “It’s not a coincidence that the first four councils where the Tories have enforced the privatisation of children’s services are all Labour controlled.

“The enforcement of a children’s trust upon Sandwell is being ideologically driven by the Tories set on privatising or cutting everything.

There is simply no evidence or justification for privatising children’s services in order to improve it.

“There are real practice fears it could adversely affect the service to Sandwell’s children, particularly given the watering down of standards within current legislation.”

The overhaul of children’s services followed Ofsted identifying serious failures in its report last year.