The power of the public service unions

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Indy Politics



Leader: Dave Prentis

Size: 1.3m members

Wealth: Income £122m and assets £86.6m

Links:The union has two political funds. One is not affiliated, the other contributes £1.4m a year to Labour but is under review

Issues: Britain's biggest union has seen thousands of its members hived off to the private sector. Mr Prentis said the idea that schools and hospitals built through the Private Finance Initiative were value for money "beggared belief". Union opposes the idea the private sector equates to efficiency


Leader: Doug McAvoy

Size: 215,000

Wealth: income £15.3m

Links: The union is not affiliated to Labour and the Government believes that it is opposed to virtually all educational reforms.

Issues: Mr McAvoy believes that many of the changes introduced by the Government have increased bureaucracy without enhancing the quality of education. The NUT is bitterly opposed to the private sector becoming involved in running schools.


Leader: John Edmonds

Size: 690,000 members

Wealth: £40m

Links: Contributes £1.3m to Labour plus other donations, but Mr Edmonds is not one the Prime Minister's courtiers

Issues: The union is opposed to "creeping privatisation" but is prepared to arrive at deals to protect the terms and conditions of its members. The leadership believes ministers will need to convince unions and their members if it is to achieve a sea-change in the efficiency of services


Leader: Andy Gilchrist

Size: 52,000

Wealth: Income £9.7m, with assets of £7.3m

Links: Annual Labour donation £40,000. Its conference voted to withdraw support from any unfavourable Labour candidates

Issues: Part of a left-wing grouping of unions and is determined to preserve its index-linked pay system which has lasted more than 25 years. So far the Government has not indicated any desire to privatise any major part of the fire brigades. The influence of the union belies its size.


Leader: Bill Morris

Size: 870,000

Wealth: Income £73.8m; surplus £3.1m

Links: Once the biggest Labour affiliate but membership has fallen. Labour contribution £500,000 plus donations.

Issues: Union has tabled a motion highly critical of the Government's public sector policies to the TUC Congress in September, which could form a dress rehearsal for the Labour Party conference two weeks later. The Prime Minister could be defeated on the floor of the party conference


Leader: Sir Ken Jackson

Size: 740,000

Wealth: income £55-£60m. Assets of £60m

Links: Loyal to the PM, but disagrees with the Chancellorover the euro. Payment to Labour £1m

Issues: Sir Ken, a right-winger, argues that while he has some public sector members, all his members are "consumers" of public services and do not care who delivers them as long as they are efficient. His call for, in essence, a "no-strike" deal in public services enraged public service union leaders


Leader: Roger Lyons

Size: 416,000

Wealth: Income £26m a year, assets £30m

Links: Affiliated to Labour with a £500,000 donation annually. Its members include 81 MPs ­ the highest total for any union

Issues: Union has no strong objections to private sector investment in public services, but is opposed to any of its clinical specialists in the NHS being transferred. Has stopped pathology staff being "privatised". Membership includes NHS speech therapists and psychologists.


Leader: Billy Hayes from July

Size: 280,000

Wealth: income £20.2m with assets of £24.5m

Links: A motion calling for a rethink of the union's support for "New Labour" candidates defeated.

Issues: Has the most militant members. While the leadership has tried to persuade members to sign up to an efficiency deal in the Post Office, there has been opposition at a local level. The new postal services regulator has threatened to award licences to private sector if stoppages continue.