Trade union commitment to partnership with employers has been questioned after it emerged the TUC has opted to outsource its Partnership Institute.
Set up in January 2001 as one of the flagship programmes of then general secretary John Monks, the institute was aimed at helping unions and employers work together to achieve change without conflict.
But now the TUC general council has decided to sever all formal links and withdraw financial support. The TUC is now one of several 'clients' of an independent Partnership Institute.
A TUC spokeswoman said: "This in no way signals an end of our commitment to partnership working. It was felt the institute could successfully operate as a standalone organisation."
However, a source close to the institute told Personnel Today: "Partnership is definitely a lower priority now under Brendan Barber and Frances O'Grady."
The institute is now owned by its two directors, has one permanent member of staff, and about 10 freelance trainers. It has been offered six months' temporary accommodation at TUC headquarters in Congress House, but will be expected to find its own home after that.
Andrew Dodgson, communications director at the Transport & General Workers' Union, said: "This was felt to be something whose time had come and gone."