Congress is opposed to the privatisation of public services, PFI and the use of wholly owned subsidiaries by public bodies.
Congress notes the debacle and collapse of Carillion and notes with concern the cost to the taxpayer with further privatisation announced, including new prisons, probation services and some health services.
The recent TUC report ‘What lessons can we learn from Carillion?’ exposed the extent to which private companies running public services put short-term shareholder interests above the proper stewardship of public services, the wellbeing of workers who provide them, and the needs of communities that depend on them.
After Carillion’s liquidation, damning National Audit Office reports and further evidence that profits are created at workers’ expense, the need for trade union recognition, collective bargaining and common standards on pay, terms and conditions and pensions is pressing.
A Smith Institute report found that outsourcing has weakened employees’ bargaining rights, further fragmented services, cut productivity, clouded accountability and damaged public service. PFI is now recognised as the costliest form of contracting.
Against that background the seven principles of public life (the Nolan principles) must now form part of the statutory requirements placed on those organisations that provide public services, to strengthen the public service ethos and benefit the public.
Congress notes that there has been no independent inquiry on the costs of privatisation and the failed Private Finance Initiative. The lessons of privatisation of our railways, healthcare, energy, Royal Mail, prisons and other services have been ignored by successive governments.
Congress demands a new approach that puts public interest and public service at the heart of decision-making. Congress calls on the General Council to develop policies on in-sourcing that rapidly end outsourcing on PFI and other contracts. In bringing services in-house the minimum standards for pay, terms, conditions and pension arrangements must be those sector-wide arrangements secured through collective bargaining.
Congress welcomes Labour’s opposition to the continued use of PFI and privatisation of services.
Congress calls on the General Council to campaign for:
- an independent inquiry into the collapse of Carillion and privatisation, where trade unions can give evidence regarding their particular sectors to consider the evidence of poorer services and terms and conditions for workers in the race to the bottom and the long-term benefits of public ownership that has been ignored due to the dogma of privatisation
- all commissioning decisions to be based on a public interest test with clear criteria and in-house provision as the default
- the government to compile a comprehensive record of significant contracts across the public sector and enable central oversight of companies across multiple contracts
- providers of public services to provide details of supply chains, company ownership and governance structures, employment, remuneration and tax policies and practices
- reform of directors’ duties to require promotion of the long-term success of the company as their primary aim
- the government to extend joint and several liability laws so that workers can bring claims for employment abuses against any contractor in the supply chain
- an end to the use of PFI/PF2 models for the delivery of public infrastructure projects
- the application of the seven principles and Freedom of Information Act requirements to all service providers
- the sector-wide agreements secured through collective bargaining and the relevant public sector pension schemes becoming the minimum basis for the pay, terms, conditions and pension provision applying to all service providers in that sector
- trade union recognition in all service providers and the framework for their participation in sector-wide collective bargaining.
Supporters: POA, ASLEF