Bournemouth 2002









News & Campaigns

Responses and Submissions


Branch Contacts


Health & Safety

Service Groups






Search this siteWeb helpSite MapUNISON UK site




National Conference Bournemouth 2002
Scotland Daily Briefings
Tuesday 18 June No 2 Report

If what makes sense is what works - PFI doesn't

Jane CarolanScotland took a lead role in the keynote economic debate on the first day of Conference."If UNISON were to have a motto, it should be public spending, public spending, public spending", Glasgow's Jane Carolan told Conference as she moved Composite A for the NEC on the Third Comprehensive Spending Review.

The motion called for a campaign to highlight the contribution public services make, to demand more investment in those services and to warn against the threat to spending from European Monetary Union.And a key element of the motion was to encourage branches to be directly involved in the campaign.

"We don't just want public services, we want first class public services", said Jane, "and you don't get that on a shoestring.

"If you want a successful economy that benefits everyone you need investment in public services".

That investment had to be funded by taxation and the National Insurance increases to fund the NHS were a start.Rounding on an amendment criticising the NI rises, Jane said, "The richest 10% will pay £10 a week more.. at the same time the poorest 40% will gain with the greatest gains for the poorest", said Jane.

Jane turned to PFI, "If the Government t aren't listening to any of our other arguments, they might want to take on board that PFI is bloody inefficient.

"If what matters is what works, PFI doesn't", she said.

Scottish Convenor Mike Kirby stressed the need to deal with child poverty.

"Labour has achieved much - increased Child Benefit, small increases in Income Support and Job Seekers Allowance - and lifted a million children out of poverty. But that still leaves three million to go", said Mike.

He called for benefit grants to be brought back with ‘Child Development Grants' at key stages in a child's life; health & safety grants for cookers and furniture; secure homes grants for those rehoused and opportunity grants for childcare and travel as people move from welfare to work.

"All this would cost a mere £800 million a year", said Mike. He also called for increased anti-poverty campaigns and a wider public debate to include the voices of the poor.

Glasgow's Anne McNair called for "The funding of public services to be at the heart of the debate".

She told of the Accounts Commission report in Scotland which branded PFI as "more expensive, and based on implausible calculations".

She reminded delegates that two Scottish Councils (West Dunbartonshire and Falkirk) had rejected PFI.An amendment criticising the National Insurance rises was defeated as Conference put its full weight behind the motion.

Billion pound boost for NHS not enough

Karie Murphy, Glasgow Health Branch, moved Composite B, calling for UNISON to continue to campaign vigorously for a publicly provided NHS, free at the point of need and funded by general taxation.

Karie said "In most areas of health policy this union is united - united in our support of the funding principles of the NHS, united in our unequivocal support of all NHS staff, united in our ambition to provide the best treatment for all citizens."

"Our service group recently accepted the introduction of a pilot that saw the transfer of 15% of staff to the private sector. But 85% of staff remained within the NHS. In the long term, this decision was wrong and we must campaign for change."

Karie continued "Recently my father in law was admitted to Casualty at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary. Every bay was full. 16 patients were lying on trolleys. The average waiting time was 7 hours. There was no emergency receiving bed in the whole city. The place was carnage. And it's not good enough. UNISON will continue to demand more."

Proud to be a public service worker

Pride in our services, pride in the people who deliver them and pride in our union was the theme of Veronica Dunn's presidential address.

"The Government weren't the first to say that public services need modernising and that education and health should be a priority. UNISON has been saying it all along", said Veronica.

"Our members are committed to progressive reform - they want to improve standards - they want to deliver on labour's election pledges. In fact we are the only people who can deliver - but we don't want to be the ones paying over the odds - by losing jobs or conditions", she added.

"We need to keep piling on the pressure" in defence of and to promote public services."We are using every opportunity we can to voice our vision for public services, but we are doing it from a long term, thought through strategy of what works."


Veronica was also proud of UNISON's international involvement."Internationalism has always been an important principle for UNISON", she said and she recalled two events in particular.

"The September 11 atrocity in the USA and subsequent events and my visit to the Middle East, where I and my colleagues heard first hand the news of the Israeli army's slaughter of Palestinians, have convinced me more than ever that engagement in international work is vital in an ever shrinking world."

Veronica also covered the threats to pensions and the evils of racism. She paid particular tribute to UNISON's role in a coalition fighting to defeat the British national Party in England's North West Region.

Veronica finished with a reminder of the importance of trade unions.

"Trade unions wouldn't exist if there was no need for them. UNISON wouldn't continue to exist if our role was played out. We still need to improve and protect the pay and conditions of our members; we still need to be a voice for our members as citizens".


top | Conference Index


Conference Index

Scottish Policy on the main motions

Briefings Service and Key Contacts

What's Happening? - Guide for new delegates and old ones who were afraid to ask.