General Agreement in Trade in Services (GATS)

Back to all Motions

2003 Local Government Service Group Conference
19 February 2003

Conference recognises the serious impact on the powers and democratic freedoms of local authorities as a result of the general Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS).

We believe GATS will have a serious impact on a range of services including Education and Social Services.

In particular, GATS will over-ride local negotiations and contractual conditions agreed as part of partnership and/or procurement agreements. The effect will be that companies involved in Partnerships, Private Finance Initiatives and other Fixed-term service management contracts will be classified as a commercial venture as defined by GATS directives, and thereby subject to competition, take-over and permanent privatisation.

GATS will also limit the powers of local authorities to achieve local economic, social and environmental objectives through regulation. GATS could have serious consequences for the ability of local authorities to regulate on behalf of their communities in relation to services such as planning, licensing, environmental health and public protection.

Conference calls upon the Government to withdraw all support for GATS and resolves to:

1)Mount a national campaign of information and active opposition to GATS

2)Encourage all local government branches to alert their members to the threat posed by GATS and join social and trade union campaigns of opposition

3)Highlight the threat of GATS to local government employers nationally and locally

4)Ask the National Local Government Service Group Executive to include GATS proposals and implications in all discussions and negotiations with national employers and government, explaining UNISON’s opposition to the Agreement and its regulations.