Union bosses on the second term

John Monks TUC general secretary
There was something rather conditional about Labour's second and historically unprecedented landslide.Voters were suspending judgement, knowing it takes more than four years to achieve real change. The memory of Tory failings is still strong, but the pressure on Labour to deliver is intense. New Labour thinking proved very successful in persuading voters of economic competence. The worry is that it provides fewer answers, and some wrong ones, for the second goal - improving public services.

David Triesman AUT general secretary
During the first term, the AUT demonstrated the unique value of universities to the UK. We aimed to impress the government and the public with the academic contribution, arguing that an inexorable decline in salaries would hurt what should be nurtured.The passage from securing stable economic conditions to expenditure growth in the second term would always pose challenges. There must be a new dialogue about the balance between more student places, research and sustained quality.

Tony Dubbins GPMU general secretary
The GPMU exists to protect and advance the interests of its members and their families. A commitment to the full implementation and development of the European social model and early membership of the euro, at a realistic exchange rate, are essential. Employment rights from day one, recognition in firms with fewer than 21 employees and support for International Labour Organisation conventions are all needed. In public services, we support investment for improvement, not privatisation for profit.

Paul Noon IPMS general secretary
Labour has had a poor start with the public sector, but partnership with employees and trade unions on the delivery of services should be the cornerstone of its second term. Public servants want improvement and will respond positively to modernisation.But there are pre-requisites: we need more available resources; privatisation is not the answer and will be opposed by public servants and their trade unions; and ministers must be more positive about what the public sector can achieve.

Mick Rix ASLEF general secretary
As someone involved in the railway industry, I hope that the second term will bring the new thinking about transport and the railways so signally lacking in the first term - in particular, a return to a publicly owned rail network. As a trade unionist, I would like to see an end to the boasting that we have the most restrictive union laws in western Europe and a start to bringing us into line with International Labour Organisation conventions, which means more positive rights for workers and the repeal of anti-union laws.

Bill Speirs STUC general secretary
With elections to the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly in just over 18 months, speedy action is needed at the UK level if Labour MSPs are not to suffer collateral damage. That action should include investing in public services and public servants; ending the infatuation with privatisation; quickly and enthusiastically delivering on workers' rights to information and consultation; a strategy for manufacturing; a minimum wage of at least £5 an hour without age exemption; and clear, unequivocal opposition to Dubbya's Star Wars lunacy.

Bill Morris TGWU general secretary
We want to work in partnership with the government to conclude some important items of unfinished business. This means full information and employment rights; an obligation on employers, regardless of size, to put in place International Labour Organisation minimum labour standards; and employment rights from day one. During Labour's historic second term, we wish to see the renaissance of a public services ethos. Reform must be based on the principle of social need, not private greed.

Dr Beverly Malone RCN general secretary
The NHS will continue to dominate the agenda in this government's second term. The main themes will be expectations, delivery and clarity. Modernisation plans have raised expectations, but patients and nurses need to see concrete evidence that improvements are happening. The public sector and those who work in it are a tremendous resource - the government needs to value them accordingly.The RCN looks forward to working with fellow unions on behalf of nurses and patients.

Sir Ken Jackson AEEU general secretary
The main challenge in the second term is to raise productivity and competitiveness across UK industry. Labour has made a good start, with a series of important initiatives. But we must build on these with more investment, expanded training and skills development. If we do, then AEEU members will enjoy greater employment security. If we don't,then manufacturing will continue to shrink. I know the government and the AEEU are ready to meet the challenge. I want industry to join us.

Barry Reamsbottom PCS general secretary
I welcome Tony Blair's commitment in his speech at Royal Free Hospital that he has no intention to privatise vast swathes of the public sector. PCS members working in the civil service and related areas have already proved they can deliver programmes for the government, including the New Deal, the working families tax credit and the minimum wage. All we ask is the chance to prove we can still deliver - while remaining in the public sector.

This article first appeared in the 10 September 2001 issue of the New Statesman, The New Statesman Essay - The love of a robot