BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Business  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
E-Commerce
Economy
Market Data
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Thursday, 6 September, 2001, 16:23 GMT 17:23 UK
TUC battle plan revealed
Roger Lyons, leader of the MSF union
Lyons; 'some services work better in public hands'
The leaders of Britain's biggest unions will unite behind a motion attacking the further privatisation of public services at next week's TUC Conference, the BBC has learned.


[The resolution] brings together the willingness and the commitment to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the public services..with the need to protect and promote the public sector.

Roger Lyons, General Secretary, MSF
Speaking exclusively on a BBC News Online webcast, Roger Lyons, head of the white-collar MSF union, said union leaders from across the political spectrum had thrashed out their differences on the issue and were ready to present a united front.

The news will come as a blow to Tony Blair, who is due to address the conference on Tuesday.

He is convinced that greatly increasing the involvement of the private sector is the only way to rescue Britain's crumbling services.

The webcast also saw the managing director of a leading private sector firm bidding for public contracts, Jarvis Projects, Patrick Gardiner, admit that the excess profits had been made by the private sector in the early days of the private finance initiative.

Protecting jobs

The TUC conference had been expected to be split on the issue of private sector involvement, with some unions, such as the AEEU, backing the government's line.

The unions want to protect jobs and wages.

But some, such as Unison and the GMB, are angry about the huge profits being generated by some private contractors.

Others, with members working in the private sector, are keen to stress its role.

The issue is set to make next week's TUC conference one of the most politically charged for years.

Improving services

Mr Lyons told BBC News Online that all 17 members of the TUC council agreed on Thursday to back a composite motion on the privatisation of public services.

"This very day, the entire TUC leadership have been discussing this whole question," Mr Lyons said.

"We've agreed a policy position and a jointly agreed statement that will be put before the TUC Congress next week.

"This brings together the willingness and the commitment to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the public services.

"But at the same time the need to protect and promote the public sector ethos both for those working in it and for those who depend upon it."

'Benefiting the rich'

Mr Lyons added: "We know that privatised systems can sometimes only benefit rich people - American healthcare is good example - and we need to ensure that there is a public sector provision both in health care and education on a universal basis.

"We mustn't let any suggestion of private involvement undermine those principles and that's the central thrust of the proposals at the TUC next week."

Mr Lyons said he would draw the line at the privatisation of clinical services.

"A number of unions are involved in ensuring that their members, for example in my case, members involved in clinical services are not in the private sector - some who have been, have been returned to the NHS.

"We have been arguing strongly that that area is not for the private sector."

Mr Lyons said that he had been reassured by talks with Tony Blair and Alan Milburn, the health secretary, about the government's intentions.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Nicholas Jones
"The unions really want some more assurance from Tony Blair"

Key stories

Background

Case studies

From the grassroots

CLICKABLE GUIDE
Links to more Business stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Business stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes