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.