TUC chief hails forum for change

The newly-agreed deal to give trade unions more say in reforms of the UK’s
public services will be more than just a ‘worthless talking shop’, the TUC
general secretary has promised.

Brendan Barber said the forum of government ministers and trade unionists
would be used for serious discussions on the changes currently taking place
across the public sector.

The agreement was sealed at a meeting between Prime Minister Tony Blair and
union leaders in a bid to increase dialogue and avoid further tensions.

"The forum is designed to ensure there is an opportunity to discuss
proposed changes properly. I hope that potential future policy will also be
discussed," he said. "It is an opportunity to influence major policy

He said the talks would not just focus on big political decisions, such as
foundation hospitals, but would look at ongoing reorganisation in the sector.

"In some areas, there has been good change management, but in others,
it has had a whiff of imposition. This is not a win or lose situation. I want
to establish a modern relationship, where the union contribution is properly
recognised by government," he added.

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