- 2010 Health Care Service Group Conference
- 10 December 2009
Conference welcomes the Three Companies Project and other initiatives by UNISON to strengthen the union’s membership and organisation in private companies operating in the NHS. Such work is vital if we are going to be able to make these companies treat their workforce with anything like the same standards on pay, conditions, workplace policies etc as we expect in the NHS.
Having said that, the experience of many branches is that even large companies providing vital services such as cleaning, laundry and catering have appallingly poor standards of management, disregard for their staff’s welfare, indifference to their rights, and an approach to service provision which often borders on the negligent.
That is not surprising, since these companies are basically in the NHS for one reason only, which is to make fat profits at the expense of the taxpayers who are footing the bill. The experience of 25 or more years of privatisation is that we always get a worse service, with far worse treatment of staff, at greater expense to the public purse.
That is why it is high time to call a halt! Alongside organising in the private sector, we need to step up our campaigning at every level to bring all privatised services back into the NHS where they belong.
Where services are being operated by private contractors, or are being put out to tender, UNISON should wherever possible organise to bring these services back in-house or prevent them being privatised. This can be done by exposing shortcomings in the performance of privatised services, working to improve issues such as safety and staffing levels, and ensuring that in-house bids are submitted for services facing privatisation. At all times the affected members themselves must be involved, otherwise we can have the best arguments in the world but no-one to fight for them!
Branches and regions should start by identifying ‘target contracts’ for bringing back in-house or keeping in-house, with reports on progress to be made to the Service Group Executive and next year’s Health Group Conference.