Opening the debate on privatisation at the TUC in Brighton this afternoon (Monday), UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said:
“Privatisation failed in the 80s, again in the 90s and it’s still failing today. The profits are made by big money firms, yet the costs are borne by the workforce, future generations and people in desperate need of the services provided.
“Now there’s the threat of Boris Johnson selling off our NHS to the highest bidder and all for a grubby trade deal with Donald Trump.
“Scrapping privatisation is our number one priority. Privatised care services are collapsing and public sector jobs are being hived off to those who care more about private profit than public good.
“These rich and powerful companies and contractors are immune to the damage privatisation causes. But those who rely on public services aren’t. Nor are our people – the predominantly low-paid staff who keep these services going despite real challenges.
“Public funds are being siphoned off into the pockets of the powerful and the dodgy world of off-shore companies in the most outrageous way.
“This is an outrage that must end. At this critical time, as the country moves towards an election, we must all – every one of us – step up the fight to bring all privatised services back in-house.
“Not just some of them, all of them. There’s also no need to delay until the current contracts end. Every single privatised service must return in-house where it belongs.
“To the doubters who say this can’t be done as it will cost too much there’s a very simple answer. The money to buy out the contracts can be found by taxing the rich.
“That means no more tax loopholes and no more handouts to the wealthy. It means closing tax havens, and making every company and bank pay its fair contribution to society.
“It means no more wasting billions replacing weapons of mass destruction, instead starting to rebuild those local communities that’ve been left behind.
“The UK is one of the richest countries in the world yet there’s thousands sleeping rough and six million children in grinding poverty.
“It’s an absolute disgrace, but that’s what austerity and privatisation means. Privatisation demeans, damages and destroys.
“Privatisation was never a necessity, nor will it ever be. The toxic mix of privatisation and austerity was a political choice, but there is an alternative to this wanton profiteering.
“That alternative is public services – provided for the people by the people. Based on need not greed.
“Last year the Labour Party voted to end all privatisation and bring all services back in house in its first year in office.
“But first we have to get Labour into power. For too long, our people have been failed. But not any longer.
“Now is the time to take back control of our economy, our jobs and our public services. Now is the time to stand together united, putting division behind us.
“We need to get out there campaigning and talking to others, knocking on doors not locked in committee rooms, trigger-voting Labour MPs. That’s a road to nowhere, at a time when we need the road to power.
“But we can only get there, if Labour stays united and is a broad church with broad appeal. Divided parties never win elections, and people need the Labour Party in power like never before.
“The future we need is within our grasp. We can sweep away this wretched government and bring our public services back in house and put Labour back in power.”
Notes to editors:
– Dave Prentis was moving the privatisation composite motion at the 151st Congress in Brighton. Congress opened yesterday and closes on Wednesday.
– UNISON is the UK’s largest union, with more than 1.3 million members providing public services – in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in both the public and private sectors.