TUC chief heralds launch of forum for change

A
newly agreed deal to give trade unions more say in reforms to 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 Tony Blair and union leaders in a bid
to increase dialogue and avoid further tensions that have plagued relations for
months.

“The
forum is designed to ensure there’s an opportunity to discuss proposed changes
properly and I hope that potential future policy will also be discussed,"
said Barber.

“It’s
an opportunity to influence major policy changes and to contribute to solving
some of the problems. The dialogue should help win the support of the workforce
which provides public services.”

He
said the talks would not just focus on the big political decisions like
foundation hospitals but would look at all the ongoing reorganisation in the
sector, with particular emphasis on change management.

“In
some areas there’s been good change management but in others areas it’s had a
whiff of imposition. This isn’t a win or lose situation. I want to establish a
modern relationship where the union contribution is properly recognised by
government,” he explained.

The
cross-department forum, which will be chaired by Cabinet Office Minister
Douglas Alexander, was developed after a series of seminars on set up by the
TUC, looking at issues affecting the public sector workforce.

By Ross Wigham

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