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UNISON's manifesto for Scotland's public services


High quality public services are central to Scotland's economy and the quality of life of its citizens. In this paper UNISONScotland sets out its vision for the future of Scotland's public services.

Scotland has begun to develop a public service model specific to the needs of a relatively small country with particular culture, geography and ideology.We must continue to develop by internationalising our outlook, seeking best practice, not just in England and the USA, but from other small countries.

We have much to learn from Nordic countries. The debate over public services has all too often focused on differences between Scotland and England.We need to build a consensus about what we want, not what we don't want.

Here, UNISONScotland lays out the principles we believe will revitalise public services in Scotland


We launched our First Scottish Manifesto - Serving Scotland - in 1999. This marked a significant change away from a standard trade union approach to political life, reflecting the difference that was happening with the creation of a Scottish Parliament, and new ways of working.

In April 2003 UNISON launched its manifesto for Scotland's Public Services, Revitalise our Public Services. Our aim was to create a positive agenda for the future of Scotland's public services. Three years on we are refreshing that manifesto to take account of progress made and the new challenges which face Scotland.

Scotland's Approach to Public Services

Scotland has achieved much in recent years, but much still needs to be tackled. There is high employment and high economic activity, but many people are still unable to find work.

There are still problems of low pay particularly for women. Poverty and inequality are still high, the population is ageing, many people have no pension provision and racism and sectarianism blight the life of too many Scots. Public services are the key to overcoming these problems both as a provider of services and as a major employer.

Scotland's approach to public services is different from England's. It is an approach that reflects Scotland's geography, scale, and culture. The aim has been to deliver improvement and value for money through collaboration and co-ordination not competition.We believe that the ethos of public service is different from the market's.

Gordon Brown MP articulated this difference: at their best, public services are founded on values greater than material, they are founded on the ethics of compassion, duty and service. I have seen this ethic of public service at work. I have seen doctors and nurses who show not only exceptional skills and professionalism but also extraordinary care and friendship. Carers whose unbelievable compassion and support can transform despair into hope, home helps and support staff whose dedication, commitment and humanity show that there are values far beyond those of contracts, markets and exchange, showing that public services can be a calling and not just a career. So we are not isolated individuals, we depend on each other not out of weakness but because it is by the strength of common endeavour that we achieve more. in Scotland in UNISON no 54 - April 2005

It is this public service ethos that underpins our approach to revitalising Scotland's public services. Public services run on ethical lines based on the principles laid down by Lord Nolan: selflessness, integrity, objectivity, openness, accountability, competence and equality.

To build on this ethos UNISONScotland believes these five principles can form the basis for a public sector that will be the envy of the world.





UNISONScotland 2006
Published by UNISONScotland,
UNISON House, 14 West Campbell Street,
Glasgow G2 6RX. Tel 0141 332 0006