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Poll: is the public best served by unions or the private sector?

Posted on June 25, 2009
Written by Todd Latham

Today, on my LinkedIn profile, I posed a topical question — in Toronto at any rate — “is the public best served by unions or the private sector?”

You can have your say by voting directly or by commenting below.

2 Responses to “Poll: is the public best served by unions or the private sector?”

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    MIra S says:

    Lou Di Gironimo, general manager of Toronto Water told Canadian Water Treatment magazine’s managing editor, Kerry Freek, this morning that water and sewer services can perform “indefinitely” without the aid of its usual frontline workers. “We’ve got our contingency plan,” he says. “Our facilities are being operated by the plant management staff.” Full story here:

  2. Michael says:

    Question is a bit unusual since unions exist in private sector, but here goes:

    Personal bias aside, unions can work effectively in the public or private sector. It’s about how relationships are managed, and how performance is measured and rewarded.

    Same on the broader question of public vs private delivery of services to the public. It’s about how things are managed. There are plenty of examples of public sector performing extremely well, and plenty of cases of the private sector performing poorly – and vv.

    The management challenge, and it’s where the original question becomes irrelevant, is what the best practices are and how well the organization is doing to perform up to those practices. Management is accountable for managing the execution of those practices, and so it really isn’t a union issue at all – it’s a management issue.

    An even broader consideration – from a financial perspective, in the current economic and financial downturn, capital is scarce. Governments, despite declaring massive stimulus, need private sector investment to address all the infrastructure and public service requirements out there. It’s a matter of how to best use capital. When a government gets the private sector to fund and manage public services, they can use the public funds (they would have otherwise committed) to support additional projects.

    That makes good sense for everyone – more services, more public priorities addressed, efficient use of tax payers dollars. It creates more jobs than if the public sector tried to do it themselves. It also gets the private sector to take part of the accountability for how well public needs are met.


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