Keep public services public
Positively Public is UNISON's priority campaign for
the rest of 2001. It campaigns for Britain's public services,
for re-investment, and the public delivery of those services.
We want to reverse government thinking that seeks to increase
the use of the private sector to deliver public services.
Just as importantly we want to celebrate the successes of our
public services and work with Government to reinvigorate public
services. We understand the cuts in funding that took place
over many years and believe we can help in maximising sound
The campaign was re-launched immediately after the last election
with a significant MORI poll that showed that the British people
felt that public services should be run by public authorities,
not private companies (75% in the UK, 91% in Scotland).
UNISON motions at the TUC and Labour Party Conferences and
raising the issue directly with decision-makers have followed
this. UNISON has also ensured that our arguments are raised
in the media, both in the UK and in Scotland. It is clear that
the arguments are being won in the media and in public forums
where the debate is being held. However we need to continue
this campaign to drive it home to the politicians that the private
sector route is not the answer.
What Branches should do
This is a national campaign and, whilst activities are being
organised at UK and Scottish level, Branch activity is very
important to the campaign. There are a number of ways that this
can be done.
It makes a lot of sense to co-ordinate activity between branches
at a local level. This is being done in Highland and has been
started in Lanarkshire. Branches should come up with ideas for
local activity and discuss them with their regional officer
and/or the Scottish Communications Officer. Funds are available
from the GPF for Branch and Regional activity and Branches wishing
to take advantage of this facility should raise it with Chris
Bartter/Matt Smith in advance of application to the GPF.
Public Services Day
A national Public Services Day is being organised on
the 4 December. This features a Rally and Lobby of Parliament
in London, and a national briefing featuring details will be
Branches are reminded that this is a major part of the campaign
and, whilst the Scottish Parliament has responsibility for public
spending in Scotland, the money ultimately comes from Westminster.
In Scotland we are also planning an event centred on the Scottish
Parliament for the 5 Dec. This would involve the Scottish Committee
and Service Groups in an event aimed at positively promoting
both our public services and UNISON.
Let us know
If Branches have specific ideas or issues that they think should
be included in such an event please let us know. Plus if you
have stories of failings of the private sector or positive stories
regarding the public sector, please let Chris Bartter know.
Any queries or suggestions should also be directed to Chris
Bartter, who is the Scottish contact for the campaign. Keep
an eye on our Scottish website for the latest information.
We need to ensure that targets for the postcard campaign are
achieved. Scotland has a target figure of 15% of our membership
(this means 21,600 signed postcards - or two in every ten members).
We had a good start with the work that was done at the Gig
on the Green, but this now needs to be built on. Branches could;
send out postcards and pens to all their members; run stalls
in the street; approach service users (HE branches could get
students to sign up) and use other initiatives.
Signed postcards should be sent back to the Positively Public
Unit at HQ as soon as possible. Please try to collect the postcards
you put out, count them and indicate on the bundles the number
and the fact they come from your branch and from Scotland. (see
panel to order postcards).
Who Profits from PFI?
The National Audit Office has concluded that a quarter of completed
PFI deals do not meet Treasury guidelines on sharing windfall
profits. These include major Scottish schemes like the Skye
Bridge, M74 and Kilmarnock Prison.
Refinancing deals are netting contractors multi-million pound
windfalls. So much so that senior treasury officials are reported
to have told contractors that they risked "killing the goose
that lays the golden egg".
Contractors are not only pigs at the trough. Government figures
show that £52m was spent on advisors for the first wave of PFI
hospital schemes. An average of £3m per advisor. Nice work if
you can get it!
As the first major wastewater PFI schemes come on line problems
are being highlighted across the country.
East of Scotland Water are diverting tankers away from Seafield
PFI scheme because of the cost. Local residents are complaining
about inadequate odour control. Similar smelly PFI schemes are
reported in Fort William and Inverness.
In the West the Dalmuir PFI scheme is well behind schedule
as is Daldowie. There's a smell from water PFI and it's not
just the sewage.
Roads - who gains?
The two private companies awarded the trunk roads contracts
after a seriously flawed tender procedure have already been
served default notices by the Scottish Executive. And that only
covers the summer period! Not that this worries Amey PLC. They
just reported pre-tax profits up 30%.
NHS pigeons come home to roost
As they open, Scotland's first major PFI hospitals are already
showing the PFI faults which have been so prevalent in England.
Hairmyres is suffering from a lack of beds, lost patient records,
IT failures and a list of structural faults. The Royal Infirmary
of Edinburgh hasn't yet opened, yet IT provider McKesson have
already announced they can't deliver the Hospital Information
System on time.
Medical staff are again pointing to bed shortages and the financial
inflexibility in PFI. The Trust's Medical Director said "If
they insist on hospitals making budget cuts, increasingly those
cuts will have to be in clinical services because there will
be nowhere else to go".
Sounds familiar? It should be - these were precisely the arguments
put up by UNISON when the RIE scheme was approved
What Branches are doing
The Highland Branches have a 'street postcard signing'
day on Nov 3 in Inverness. Similar events are also planned by
Renfrewshire and on Public Services Day - 4/5 December
East Ayrshire Branch will have a street stall in Kilmarnock
and also be releasing their balloon race - balloons issued to
anyone who signs up a member during November or to the member
that signs up! Prizes will go to the farthest away balloon label
Edinburgh Branches will be taking part in an Edinburgh
TUC March & Rally for Public Services, 17 November:
11.30 East Market Street, march off 12.00 and Rally at Assembly
Rooms George Street at 1pm.
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