Labour out of touch over public sector pay freeze, say union leaders. Wording of wide-ranging motion passed by conference fails to match rhetoric from the platform
Hélène Mulholland, guardian.co.uk,
Ed Miliband and his shadow chancellor, Ed Balls, came under fire at Labour’s annual conference as union leaders accused the party leadership of being out of touch with the plight of ordinary workers for backing the government’s ongoing pay freeze in the public sector.
A row first triggered nine months ago resurfaced on the first full day of the conference in Manchester as the Unison leader, Dave Prentis, conveyed the anger felt by public sector trade unions over Balls’s decision at the turn of the year to come out in support of the freeze on the grounds that protecting jobs was a higher priority.
Speaking to a motion arguing for an economic alternative to the government’s austerity agenda, Prentis said:
“To those who believe that driving down further the pay of public service workers will save jobs, I say you are wrong. Wrong morally and wrong economically. The reality is that our people have already had a 10% pay cut as wages have been frozen and the cost of food, petrol, housing has soared, and we’re still losing jobs – 700,000 of them.
“They want Labour in opposition to be in touch, to show that they are on the side of those harmed by the coalition. They want Labour in opposition to fashion an economic alternative that does not leave ordinary people in any doubt that Labour speaks and acts for them.”
The wording of the wide-ranging motion, which was overwhelmingly passed by conference, failed to match the rhetoric from the platform, however.
In a move clearly designed to spare the blushes of the leadership, a line condemning the prolonged pay freeze was watered down to say the conference “notes” the real-terms pay cut, and there was no mention of a call on Labour to reverse the policy.
Len McCluskey, leader of Unite, the country’s largest trade union, called for:
“no more false choice of jobs or wages”
and warned that Labour would need to draw up a “radical alternative” if it was to win the next general election. He said Miliband needed to give members real hope that the party under his watch would be different from the “neoliberalism” of the last Labour administration and from the coalition government.
Speaking to a motion on the need for banking reforms, McCluskey suggested the leadership was too influenced by Blairite wing of the party.
“I say to Ed: a public squeeze while the City continues to let rip is simply not acceptable. Asking the poorest for further sacrifices for a crisis they did not cause is the road to political ruin and defeat at the next election. It is time for Labour to once and for all turn its back on the neoliberalism of the past.”
The personal attack on the shadow chancellor continued when the GMB union leader, Paul Kenny, released a series of “policy errors” made by Ed Balls when he was in government, including financial regulation, PFI and public-private partnership.
7 thoughts on “Unite’s Len McCluskey: ‘Asking the poorest for further sacrifices for a crisis they did not cause is the road to political ruin and defeat at the next election’”
Well said sir, have you ever thought of standing for Parliament ?
and that is why labour will not get in to power if they dont listen as we thew sick nd disabled are attacked daily by atos dwp made by blair used by the torys and now they asking for more cuts nah its labour looking in again if no change is not forthcoming from them labour is just another tory party taking over by torys jeff3
That is right. You do not make cuts to benefits because you are in touch with the electorate, but because it is immoral to do so,
Between the tories toffs and labour idiots they will hand the SNP Scotland on a plate. They will break the union, NOT Alec Salmond.
How dare David Cameron lecture UN on child suffering whilst, in Britain, his government of self-serving money-grabbers who do not know their place, concoct schemes of such amorality as to be unbelievable. Children in Britain ARE suffering because parents’ wages are “frozen” whilst the cost of living soars. £1.35 for a loaf of bread, £2.19 for 2.5kg of potatoes, 99p for a 1kg bag of sugar….and, shame of shame, Labour, LABOUR for pity’s sake, are going to deal out more of the same.
I don’t care if they double the foreign aid to starving people overseas. I abhor the fact that, after baling out the banks, they expect the vulnerable to keep taking cut after cut, inflicted by the two main parties.
We had a nationhood to be proud of. Now? If a seedy Victorian industrialist were transported here today, he’d be rubbing his hands in glee…free workers, supplied by the state.
Why do millionaires who run this country for our benefit want to be paid when interest on their inheritance amounts to more? These self righteous, tax avoiding scroungers who say we are “in it together” need to be booted out, or be made to stick to the same rules they enforce on the people they are trying to destroy. When there are no more “undeserving poor” then they will go after the middle class, when they have finished with them they wil define a new class. Gees, these people in power are void of any feelings or morals, once they are voted out they won’t give a shit as they did what they were allowed to do by us, the public.
and how much does McCluskey earn then?
and when did he and the unions last stand up for disabled people?
maybe the unions should complete abandon their affiliation to new labour fascist party – that actually might mean something