Call to redress the balance of partnerships

Rodney Bickerstaffe, general secretary of Britain’s biggest union Unison, launched a withering attack on the Government last Friday for its “hypocrisy” and failure to deliver on partnership.

At the annual Society of Chief Personnel Officers conference in Brighton he told the Government to “keep the words coming because the words sound great”, but added, “it is the follow-through that I’m interested in”.

Bickerstaffe said he was all for working together but partnership must mean partnership.

Local government is denigrated by central government, he said, and while the union had made a great effort to make Best Value work, the Government continued to favour the private sector.

“Education is central. The union has been involved for years in training and retraining people in their 40s, 50s and 60s. We have been saying something needs to be done to help those people, but very little has been done,” he said.

He is proud of achieving his 30-year ambition of seeing a minimum wage in Britain, but said in some ways it was a hollow victory.

“We have negotiated much higher levels of pay in local government and now have staff employed by contractors earning much less on the minimum wage.”

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