Unions are renewing efforts to persuade the government to abandon the private finance initiative.

TUC general secretary John Monks attacked the PFI. He told a packed fringe meeting at Bournemouth that it was “nothing more than a glorified mortgage showing up debt later on.

“Porters, catering staff and maintenance workers end up suffering poorer conditions at work because of the PFI.”

Monks applauded recent government moves to protect the pensions of staff transferring to PFI consortia. He added: “We are looking for even greater improvements to guarantee pensions for new workers in PFI, not just those transferred [from the public sector].”

Speaking at the same Socialist Health Group meeting, Dave Prentice, deputy general secretary of ancillary workers’ union Unison, said: “We do not think that the government is getting value for money from the PFI. Some of the bidders that are winning PFI contracts are paying interest rates of 18% on their loans. How can that represent value for money?” Bronwyn McKenna, Unison’s director of members’ services, seconded Monks’ complaint that workers who are transferred from the public sector often ended up with worse terms and conditions.