Public Services

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2002 National Delegate Conference
25 February 2002
Carried as Amended

The future health of our public services is at a critical point, with a government committed to improving them after years of under investment, but increasingly choosing the private sector, not existing staff, as the solution to problems.

Conference deplores the fact that the Government has responded to the need for better services by creating markets, promoting competition not co-operation and by privatisation. The results have been less responsive services and less accountable services, poorer value for money, fragmentation and a demoralised workforce with worsening pay and conditions.

Conference believes that the Government will only see a step change improvement in public services when workers are valued, paid a fair wage, well trained, well motivated and have security at work.

Conference notes a UNISON opinion poll that showed that 83 per cent of the public did not want their public services run for profit.

This Conference set out in 2000 the six principles on which modern public services should be based:

1)Democratic accountability;

2)Effective delivery;

3)Adequate funding;

4)Equality of access;

5)Fairness at work; and


Composite C in 2001 asked for renewed energy for the Positively Public campaign and Conference is pleased to see the £800,000 fund created by the General Political Fund, Affiliated Political Fund and Policy Development and Campaigns Committee for the following activities:

a)A postcard campaign that collected 100,000 signatures;

b)A national Day of Action with other unions and a lobby on December 4th 2001 with regional and local events;

c)A national advertising campaign called Remember 83;

d)Policy seminars for an alternative reform agenda;

e)Continued anti-PFI and two-tier workforce research work;

f)A push for a fair wages clause in public contracting at all levels, from local campaigns in East London, to the Greater London Authority, national government and Europe.

Conferences welcomes the extra billions of pounds committed to public services, and to raising NHS spending to the European average. However, Conference does not believe that the expansion and improvement of public services can be achieved by PFI, PPP schemes or an increased role for the private sector. UNISON will continue to campaign vigorously against these proposals. However, where necessary, UNISON will continue to negotiate the best protection possible for current and future members. In particular UNISON insists that, if for any reason a particular service is removed from public ownership and accountability and handed over to a profiteering private contractor, then there shall be no deterioration whatsoever in terms and conditions, including pensions, either of existing staff or of future recruits.

Conference believes that the commitments given at Labour Party Conference 2001 represent a significant step forward and we recognise the importance of taking these initiatives forward.

Conference also believes the Government needs to stick with a long term plan to increase investment in staff and our national infrastructure and not propose constant and damaging re-organisations. Reform and modernisation must come from within the public services, tapping into existing experience, skills and expertise.

Conference therefore directs the National Executive Council to continue the Positively Public campaign under the lines set out at National Delegate Conference 2001 and to;

i)Step up campaign activities against privatisation in all its forms and in favour of direct service provision;

ii)Openly confront the Government with our evidence of private sector failures to deliver quality services to the public;

iii)Campaign for a widespread public debate and commitment from government to tackle the causes of health inequalities and to produce strategies to raise health outcomes;

iv)Call on the political funds to pool resources as part of a strategic approach;

v)Listen to and work closely with regions, self organised groups, service groups to increase the pressure on the Government;

iv)Maximise and highlight the level of public support for public services and UNISON’s position and tap into this support to link UNISON policy on European Monetary Union and its implications for public spending with the positively public arguments;

vii)Foster, encourage and highlight local campaigns by branches;

viii)Help branches build local coalitions of tenants, community groups, religious organisations and service users to support public services and promote local fair wages clauses;

ix)Support and co-operate with other public service unions opposed to privatisation;

x)Develop a reform agenda within the public sector to prove that existing staff are part of the solution to solving problems;

xi)Consult within UNISON on a 10 year plan to invest in our public services and to bring them up to world class standards and to present for approval to National Delegate Conference 2003, UNISON’s 10th anniversary.