ASLEF contemporary motion to the Labour Party Conference 2002

05 September 2005

ASLEF leads the fight back on public services and calls for a moratorium on PFI and PPP projects

The motion

Conference notes that Public services are essential to a modernised civilised society that has at its base a developed economy but notes the quality and the provision of that service is, as ever, most important.

In valuing our public services, and championing the quality of public services, the Government must be congratulated in their proposed level of investment, as announced in the July 2002 Spending Review by the chancellor, which includes education, health and transport. 

Congress welcomes the agreement that was reached in August 2002 at ACAS where the local government unions and employers agreed a set of proposals, which represented a breakthrough for the lowest paid workers. It was also stated that decent pay and conditions are an essential pre-requisite for delivering public service improvements. The proposed settlement including the establishment of a Local Government Pay Commission has the potential to provide a fair and stable platform for industrial relations in local government. 

However, conference regrets that the Government’s programme for public service reform and modernisation continues to promote and encourage greater private sector involvement despite a growing list of failures. The ongoing crisis across the nations railway system, the near collapse of British Energy and the failures of the CSA and Criminal Records Bureau show that the private sector is not the answer. It must be recognised that there is a growing disenchantment and frustration that is damaging to the government, the party, public services and public service workers over the method that private sector involvement in public services is taking place. Or, in many instances, not delivering the services required. On that basis we do not believe that further privatisation or externalisation of public services is in the best interest either of service users or of public service staff.

Conference therefore recognises that the Government shares our view and a desire to modernise and improve the quality of public services.

In order to achieve these aims and objectives a number of steps need to be taken.

Government should adopt a ‘partners’ at work approach to ensure maximum consultation, calling upon the numerous expertise that exists within the trade union movement including the use of ‘in house skills’. 

To ensure the stability of public services and public service workers the government should introduce a moratorium on private sector involvement in the public sector. That moratorium should create a time-scale that would allow all parties to explore best value and draw up a modern policy which will include the use of national framework agreements covering major conditions of service issues, national safety consultation arrangements, and ensuring that a work programme that includes staffing levels, initiatives on skills and training are continually invested in by the government.

To ensure best value government should determine that public service workers who provide public services receive a decent level of pay and conditions that reflects their efforts and loyalty to their employers and the general public.

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