I made a presentation today at the PCS Scotland Privatisation Forum on Scottish perspectives on privatisation.
The forum started with an interesting historical look at the failures of privatisation, that reminded me of my own unions history. NUPE (one of UNISON’s partner unions) earliest battles were intensively political struggles. The intrusion of private contractors and the profit motive into public services was as familiar to trade unionists in Victorian Britain as it is today. Early campaigns for dustmen and sewage workers focussed on wages and conditions of those employed by contractors.
My presentation set out the context in Scotland today. Whilst we have a strong public service model, there are the usual vested interests driving privatisation on the back of budget problems. Armies of management consultants are gearing up to make money out of the public purse.
I set out UNISON’s approach including our strategic campaign – Public Works, local campaigns, our approach to procurement and of course the importance of union organisation. There will be no easy pickings in Scotland.
There followed a useful debate that highlighted the common challenges all public service workers face in Scotland.