Welcome to UNISONScotland's manifesto for public services
am pleased to put before the people of Scotland UNISON's views
on the future of Scottish public services. As we organise the
people who provide our services, UNISON is in a unique position
Our members are both providers and consumers of services. We
are only too aware of the failings in these services, failings
caused by many years of underfunding and privatisation.
Revitalising our public services is an important function of
our new Parliament. Indeed it is its most important function.
Very few parties and politicians would disagree with that statement,
but we believe our proposals will assist them in making this aim
Here the people that deliver the services at the front-line tell
what is required to revitalise our public services.
We will be circulating this manifesto to parties and candidates,
to our members, to organisations, to the media and to civic society
in Scotland. Like the draft manifesto published early in 2002,
we welcome comments on this.
Please either write or e-mail to myself at
14, West Campbell Street
Glasgow G2 6RX
Tel 0845 355 0845
This manifesto is available in a variety of formats and on UNISONScotland's
Website - www.unison-scotland.org.uk.
Please contact Chris Bartter, Communications Officer (address
above or email@example.com)
to receive this in the most accessible way.
At a time when the future delivery of our public services is
crucial, UNISONScotland is pleased to introduce its manifesto
for public services in Scotland.
In this we set out our aim which is nothing less than a revitalisation
of the public services in Scotland. Reform has often been called
for by the Scottish Government and by political parties, but there
is little evidence that there is any clear idea of what is needed
to deliver this. Here we lay down the main principles. We have
already circulated a draft of this manifesto to a wide range of
organisations. We received many supportive responses, and have
drawn heavily on them to produce this document. However the main
themes and conclusions are UNISON's own and we will be campaigning
on them during the Scottish Parliament Election Campaign and beyond.
We welcomed the Scottish Parliament and have continued to support
it in its first steps towards governing our country. Scotland's
public services were and are crucial to that support and it is
now time to address their needs. We need to grasp the thistle
of public service revitalisation, to accept that full renewal
is much needed and to set out the principles that should be adopted.
Our last manifesto, Serving Scotland laid out three basic principles
required to ensure the renewal of Scotland's hard-pressed public
- Giving people a say in their services
- Choosing quality services
- Choosing teamwork
These were widely accepted and still underpin our approach to
revitalising Scotland's public services. What is now required
is for government to take clear and radical decisions to improve
Scotland's services and to provide the infrastructure to enable
it to happen.
Much argued for in our first manifesto has been delivered - the
introduction of partnership working into the NHS; the return of
the careers service into the public sector; the commitment to
increase nursery and childcare provision, and the recognition
of the role of the community and voluntary sector in delivering
public services. UNISON particularly welcomes the strong commitment
to lifelong learning, via workplace-based projects such as UNISON's
Return to Learn, which improves the skills of people who have
not benefited from formal education, and via trade unions through
the Scottish University for Industry on specific work-based projects.
In other areas, while the aims of UNISON and of the Scottish
Government have coincided, the final outcomes have either not
yet been delivered, orhave fallen short. For example, both UNISON
and the government apparently agree on the need to relieve councils
of large housing debt burdens, but linking this to enforced Stock
Transfer means that councils are being coerced to reduce tenants'
choice of tenure.
In another example, whilst we all subscribe to partnership working
that fully involves all the partners, partnership working in practice
has sometimes belied those aims. Even in the NHS the partnership
project has sometimes failed to involve all staff in all areas.
In local government little progress on partnership has yet been
Finally, we appreciate that moves have been made to address low
pay. We welcome the successes that UNISON has had in challenging
low pay in Local Government and in the Health Service in particular,
bringing thousands of staff above the £5 per hour figure
for the first time. Whilst this is a step forward much more needs
to be done to eradicate low pay. In particular we need to broaden
the fight to many other public services - especially higher and
further education and the voluntary sector, where low pay continues
to affect staff, particularly women.
Revitalise Scotland's public services
We welcome additional funds made available to the Scottish Parliament
and commitments from the government to renew public services.
After years of decline, we could begin to seriously address service
needs. However this will not be done without the provision of
resources to support and develop renewed services. Funds going
into the profits of private businesses are funds diverted away
from public services. ‘Ring-fencing' special projects will often
not get much needed cash to where it is most needed - to the hard-pressed
front line services and the staff attempting to deliver them.
Returning to the old, failed private sector agenda is no answer
to the problems of public services. Neither is creating an artificial
divide between ‘consumers' of public services, and ‘providers'
of those services. Apart from the fact that providers are also
consumers, it ignores the real needs for successful renewal.
It is time to recognise that
- There is a need to renew Scotland's public services
- We must recognise the difference between public and private
- We must invest to revitalise public services
Public provision has a long and proud record in Scotland. More
than the UK as a whole, the Scottish people have embraced the
ideals of public service. They have consistently supported democratically
accountable services, collectively financed, accessible to all
no matter what their personal circumstances.
Public provision was important to ensure that the exploitation
of service users by private providers was stopped. In the past,
good quality housing, health and education services were only
available to those who could afford to pay; and there were only
either sporadic, charitable services or none at all for the poor.
Public services were created because people realised that collectively
they could provide services that would be comprehensive, covering
the whole population, regardless of their ability to pay; that
could be delivered locally and react to the changing needs of
a local community; and that would be provided more cheaply than
comparable profit-driven services. These arguments are still true
The provision of decent health care, housing, welfare, education,
cultural services and economic and other infrastructure such as
water and sewerage services, has always been looked on as something
that should be provided and controlled collectively - not areas
that should be left to the vagaries of the market.
The history of why publicly run and publicly accountable services
became necessary is clear. The challenge now is to build on that
to meet the needs of Scotland today and tomorrow.
There is nothing modern or new about ‘rolling back' to the days
of failed private, selective, outsourced, and uncoordinated services.
It must be done by revitalising our services based on the best
principles, responsive to the needs and wishes of the Scottish