Union leaders rail against private partnership deals in public services

Union leaders called on the government last week to stand shoulder
to shoulder with public service workers.

Addressing delegates in Blackpool, Unison general secretary Dave
Prentis highlighted social workers as being among the country’s
“unsung heroes”.

Unions promised to continue applying pressure on the government to
ensure that public sector pay reflected the high standards of
service provided by public sector workers and that service users
were placed at the centre of any future reform of public

They confirmed they would also mount a united campaign to increase

Prentis said he was proud that three-quarters of a million local
government workers had taken strike action in July. But he added
that anyone who thought the strike was just about pay was

“It was the outpouring of a workforce sick of being undervalued,”
Prentis said. “Tired of pay cuts and privatisation, tired of being
sold off as cheap commodities to the lowest bidder, tired of the
private finance initiative, strategic partnerships, or whatever new
subtext is dreamed up to describe what is plain and simple

A vote against PFI and privatisation of public services was carried
unopposed. Unions said they would push the government to impose a
moratorium on further PFI or public private partnership projects
while a detailed independent inquiry was being carried out.

TUC general secretary John Monks said: “We don’t share the belief
in private sector right and the public sector wrong. I don’t
believe that market solutions always work – and the evidence
suggests that the private sector can get things very wrong.” He
pointed to the example of private company Capita, which runs the
beleaguered Criminal Records Bureau with the Home Office.

The unions voted to hold the government to their commitment to end
the two-tier workforce by demanding the strengthening of employee
protection agreements.

They also agreed to continue discussions with the government on
improving public services through the development of in-house
provision so fewer services had to be contracted out.

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