Public Services

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2005 National Delegate Conference
28 February 2005
Carried as Amended

Conference notes extra public spending announced in 2004 Spending Review, particularly the £40 billion extra investment in the National Health Service (NHS) and believes that this could make a major difference to public services. However it cannot while the government continues a variety of trends and initiatives, marketisation, choice, privatisation, efficiency reviews, PFI and cuts in terms and conditions such as pensions and sick pay.

Conference deplores and condemns the spectacle of a general election fought between political parties trading claims and counter claims over their plans for efficiencies and reform rather than improvements to pubic services. UNISON members have been caught in the cross-fire. The Conservative’s James report into public service efficiency alleged that there was £35 billion of easy savings to be found. The Treasury imposed efficiency reviews throughout the United Kingdom (UK) which have targeted £20 billion of efficiencies. To a lesser extent the Liberal Democrats and Scottish Socialist party have plans to abolish council tax departments amongst other measures.

Conference demands that the Labour party should be held to account for the extensive list of 56 commitments given to UNISON and the affiliated trade unions as part of the policy making process known as the Warwick agreement. These include the extension of employment rights and paid holidays, level playing field for direct investment versus PFI, review of hospital cleaning, expansion of skills training, TUPE to include pensions and an expansion of family-friendly measures. Conference welcomes the Cabinet Office statement to tackle the two-tier workforce but urges the government to ensure that the roll out across the public sector takes place without further delay and that it covers all staff who can be part of the two-tier workforce.

UNISON members are not against efficiency or reform and have coped with constant change and tight budgets. Cuts disguised as reform, ill-thought out reorganisation and outsourcing, however, militate against improvement.

Conference believes that public investment in the existing staff is the key to public service improvement. Future reforms must be fully funded and staff given the tools to do the job. Furthermore, market disciplines and the denigration of administrative staff as bureaucrats and as being part of the back office will not motivate staff and can only harm public service delivery. t is essential that public service be promoted as a positive career choice, properly valued by our society. This is particularly important if we are to encourage greater numbers of young people leaving full-time education to make careers in public service.

Conference resolves to:

1)promote and celebrate the contribution of the whole staff team;

2)continue to oppose the marketisation and privatisation of public services;

3)continue to oppose attacks on pay, conditions and especially pensions;

4)campaign for a fair wages clause that would better protect the pay and conditions of public service workers employed by private contractors and would make public services less attractive to the private sector;

5)campaign at european and international levels on these issues;

6)build better links with the civil service unions;

7)lobby the government to recognise that service users prioritise good quality and convenient local services over theoretical choices;

8)assist local branches dealing with shared services initiatives across traditional service group boundaries;

9)exploit the recruitment and retention potential of:

a)successful local anti-privatisation campaigns;

b)our involvement in workforce remodelling programmes;

c)the new service delivery structures and our presence in the new providers from the private and voluntary sectors.