Later today, Prospect’s biennial national conference will be debating a range of motions related to social and public policy.
These important debates give our members a chance to have their say on issues ranging from the Grenfell and Carillion disasters, to school improvements, workers on boards, ethical procurement and cuts in the heritage sector.
Prospect has represented highly trained experts, professionals, managers and specialists working in the public service for decades. Our goal is always for our members to be treated fairly, valued, and be able to deliver the highest quality of service to people living and working in the UK.
However, the past few years have shown how critical public services are increasingly at risk, while public service employees themselves are continuing to suffer real-term pay cuts – often only kept in their jobs by their passion for what they do.
One of the tragic examples of the impact of public service cuts is the Grenfell tragedy, which exposed serious failings in the legal and regulatory system.
According to today’s motion from our London and South East regional branch, the circumstances leading up to the Grenfell fire (and the Carillion collapse) reflect a failure to provide the necessary resources to regulators – and the will and determination to ensure that regulatory standards are properly enforced.
The Forensic Science Regulator has also said that a poorly regulated forensic science system is a major threat to the fair administration of justice.
Prospect has been fighting for the future of the forensic service in the UK for many years, and tragically we continue to see the negative impact of past decisions to cut or outsource critical forensic science jobs.
As will be argued in a motion from our British Library branch today, we also know that outsourcing public services to the lowest bidder damages public services, lowers standards, causes financial instability in the private sector companies taking on the work, and leads to massive job losses and taxpayers’ money.
Outsourcing also features in a motion today from Prospect’s Education and Children’s Services Group – which they claim fails the most vulnerable members of our society. The group says outsourcing leads to a loss of democratic accountability and control and can lead to failing organisations being commissioned and recommissioned.
There is significant evidence that these services, including Multi Academy Trusts, are not providing a better or more efficient service – in fact they frequently result in poor quality services for children and young people and poor outcomes for children.
It can seem like a depressing environment, and for many of our members, it is. However, on days like today, when hundreds of passionate union activists get together to agree on what we can do – this should give us confidence.
Confidence that there are still millions of people across the UK who believe in making a difference, millions of people who understand that a trade union can be the voice of workers in individual companies, in the creation of policy and legislation, and in demanding answers from government and political parties.
Prospect has always been committed to standing up for fair, evidence-based decision making – and we aren’t going to stop now.