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National Conference Bournemouth 2002
Scotland Daily Briefings
Wednesday 19 June Reports

Name and shame them

Prentis slams accountancy firms as conference votes to step up Positively public campaign

Dave PrentisGeneral Secretary Dave Prentis ‘named and shamed' accountancy firms who had acted as advisers on PFI as well as auditors to privateers bidding for projects.

"There must be a huge question mark over the independence and impartiality of the advice these firms are giving on PFI and PPP", said Dave as he outlined the findings of a UNISON report.

"You need look no further than Arthur Andersen to see the dangers of an accounting firm acting as both auditors and management consultants.

The firms were PricewaterhouseCoopers, Andersen, KPMG, Ernst & Young and Deloitte Touche.

Dave was speaking in the major Public Services debate on a motion calling for the successful Positively Public campaign to be stepped up a gear and for a 10 year plan to rebuild public services.

The campaign will

  • openly confront the Government with evidence of private sector failures;
  • ask the political funds to pool resources for a strategic approach;
  • maximise public support;
  • help branches to build local links with users and community groups and link with other unions to bring maximum pressure to promote public services.

Demo not best tactic

Scottish Convenor Mike Kirby joined the debate giving even more evidence of the PFI farce.He quoted National Audit Commission criticism of PFI and especially the comparators used to justify schemes.

"If the answer (on best value) comes out wrong you do not get the scheme - so the answer doesn't come out wrong very often" quoted Mike.

Mike listed the joint initiatives UNISON had built against PFI and for public services, with a range of organisations and other unions at Scottish and UK level.

These were far more effective than ‘taking a busload to London', said Mike opposing an amendment for a national demonstration.

He quoted the poor turnout in recent demonstrations and urged "If you are not going to be there, don't vote for this amendment"

Despite a plea to have the demo from Caroline Leckie (North Glasgow Hospitals), Conference went with the view that other joint strategies at local and national level were the best way to progress the campaign.

Calls to impose conditions of funding on candidates were also defeated. This would have meant we could not make links with "progressive forces unless they are in 100% agreement with us on everything. It could even end up with us effectively backing more than one candidate", said yesterday's Scotland Briefing.

While the amendment was lost, Falkirk's Gray Allan met with some approval when he called on delegates to get involved in the Labour Party.

"Whenever policy is being discussed we have to be there to make the arguments", said Gray."We can win back our party from the New Labour tendency that has temporarily hijacked it".

Conference backs Chhokar campaign

Conference backed a Black Members motion, amended by Scotland, calling for a public inquiry into the handling of the case of Surjit Singh Chhokar who was murdered three years ago.

The amendment also called for a public tribunal if a public inquiry could not be achieved and for donations to support the STUC appeal to help finance the Chhokar family case.

In a moving speech, Scottish Region delegate Mary Crichton said that three years on "the family still don't know who was responsible for their son's death. Throughout that time they have conducted themselves with great dignity".

Eventually, the Scottish Executive "accepted that racism exists within the justice system".The STUC appeal to back the family's case needs £40,000. £10,000 has already been raised and "if every UNISON branch gave just £20, the target would almost be met", said Mary.

Black Members Chair Reg Hamilton reminded Conference that it was every individual's duty to challenge racism wherever they encounter it.

NOTE: UNISON Scotland has issued pledge sheets for donations from branches and Regions. See Mary Crichton to get yours.



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