Impact of Privatisation and the Two-Tier Workforce

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2012 Local Government Service Group Conference
15 February 2012
Carried as Amended

Conference notes the ruthless way in which the Conservative-led UK government is targeting local government public services for privatisation.

In England, the Localism Act effectively gives non-profit-making organisations and council employees the right to require a service be privatised. The Open Public Service White Paper specifically targets specific services for more privatisation – customer contact; planning; property and facilities management; back-office transactional services; family support; support for looked-after children; trading standards and environmental services; and housing management.

This is despite growing evidence of the failure, risks and costs of privatisation in places including Bournemouth, Birmingham, Cumbria, and Somerset, and the collapse of contractors like Southern Cross and Connaught. This conference congratulates Edinburgh and other branches that have successfully fought off privatisation proposals.

This Conference believes that privatisation is driven by a desire to cut costs at the expense of the workers, and divert public funds into private profits. The abolition of most of the two-tier codes will incrementally lead to an erosion of terms and conditions of public service workers. Bringing the market into public services almost always drives down terms and conditions. The development of mutuals, joint ventures, and sometimes trading companies, is part of this agenda and we need to understand and publicise the risks.

Conference calls on the Service Group Executive:

1)Support branches to counter privatisation proposals and engage with other service delivery changes;

2)Examine and disseminate the lessons of successfully opposing privatisation;

3)Examine and disseminate the experience of maintaining workplace organisation if services are outsourced.

4)Develop training courses for branches and regions on different types of service delivery;

5)Publicise the failures of privatisation;

6)Work with sympathetic employers and Labour Link to develop positive alternatives to the privatisation agenda;

7)Issue advice to branches on how to use the low pay requirements in the Localism Act to campaign against poverty pay;

8)Campaign to put the two-tier workforce back on the political agenda;

9)Campaign to maintain Fair Deal for pensions, and the Pensions Direction 2007;

10)Also provide support to members outside of the local authority workforce who are facing attacks on jobs, terms and conditions as a result of privatisation, such as those in Further Education.