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WARNING TO LABOUR OVER TWO-TIER WORKFORCE PLEDGE

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Unison general secretary Dave Prentis has warned the government that a failure to outlaw the practice of private co...
Unison general secretary Dave Prentis has warned the government that a failure to outlaw the practice of private contractors cutting the pay and conditions of the workforce when it wins public sector contracts in the NHS, could become a 'defining issue' in the union's relationship with the government.

Speaking at a conference, in Glasgow, of senior Unison activists and officials, he compared how Labour behaves in Scotland to how it behaves in Westminster. Scotland has extended the deal to end the two-tier workforce in PPPs to all public services, yet the Westminster government has still not extended it beyond local government.

'There seems to be a creeping difference between the way Labour behaves in Scotland and Wales and how Westminster runs local government and health services in England where dogmatic ideology sometimes rules. Private sector delivery of our public services and the two-tier workforce is a major issue for our union. It is a defining issue in our relationship with the government.

'We want a third term for Labour so that improvements to our public services can continue, but we expect the government to honour a commitment freely given to this union nearly three years ago by the prime minister and the secretaries of state for local government and health. There can be no excuse for further delay.

'How can the government be so half-hearted about a commitment given so publicly?

'Low-paid workers in health and education are being exploited and that cannot be allowed to continue. They are employed by exactly the same companies as in local government. So why let them get away with doing down health workers when they make profits of 20% to 30%? Exploiting low paid workers should not be our way.

He also challenged the government to introduce some joined-up thinking into the privatisation debate, saying: 'Alastair Darling says privatisation has been a disaster for our railways. Why doesn't he tell that to his mates in the other government departments. We a re making the same mistakes in health, in local government and in our schools that have been made on the railways. It's time to recognise that and put it right.'

And Mr Prentis paie tribute to the union's nursery nurses in Scotland engaged in strike action to get a better deal.

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