Unite delegate Julie Phipps spoke on Monday (September 10) at TUC conference in Manchester on the public sector.
“Conference, public services have been underfunded and cut to the bone in the name of austerity, the political choice of this cruel Tory government,” she said.
Outsourcing of public services to the private sector has grown rapidly with the focus on profit margins instead of providing a quality service to those that need it.
“With that there has been deterioration in the working conditions of the workers delivering that service,” said Phipps.
“Precarious work, casual labour, bullying and harassment and restructure after restructure has created insecure employment and fear in the workplace,” she added.
Unite believes that only a directly employed public sector workforce can deliver a public sector service.
“A service that puts the user at the heart of that resource, putting people before profits and delivered by workers in secure, organised employment,” said Phipps.
“These must be real jobs with proper pay and terms and conditions negotiated through sectoral collective bargaining with career progression opportunities supported by life-long learning in the workplace and, just as importantly, it’s the public sector that can provide genuine apprenticeships with valid qualifications and a real job at the end of it,” she added.
Phipps went on to draw comparisons to other privatised public services where putting profit first has led to their collapse.
“We have seen the consequences of the private sector delivering public sector services in the collapse of Carillion, so let’s kick the profit driven greedy corporations out of our public services,” she said.
“We must demand and fight for real investment, accept no more cuts to an already depleted public service and employ public sector workers to deliver an accountable and quality driven service,” she added.
Phipps set out how Unite must go about forging these changes.
“We want to see this started by Labour-led councils. Labour has its highest number of English councils in a decade. Unite calls on Labour councils to insource public services and respect and recognise their workforce and unions,” she said.
“We need councils to step up to the plate. The Tories are weak and divided. By insourcing councils will strengthen our movement and strengthen public services,” she added.