Taming the wildcats
Posted by Ian at 9 50 PM on Saturday, September 12
GORDON Brown will warn the trade unions this week to stop calling strikes — and to play their part in rescuing the British economy.
After trying to do cushy deals with the “brothers” over a curry at Chequers on Friday, the PM will give them a tongue lashing on Tuesday.
He will deliver his tough message at the TUC conference in Liverpool, where the unions were gathering yesterday.
They will spend the week threatening a series of strikes to close schools, hospitals, rail networks and the postal service unless the government guarantees pay rises and no job cuts.
But Mr Brown will warn them wildcat strikes will only keep Britain mired in recession longer.
And he will tell them the jobs of teachers, nurses and other key workers will only be saved if the unions recognise the need for cuts elsewhere.
He will say: “We have to make tough choices in public spending and we will need the support of the Labour movement in protecting the frontline first.”
But Mr Brown’s call for unity has been rejected by union left- wingers even before it is made. Downing Street and Labour MPs reacted with fury this weekend after Bob Crow, General Secretary of the RMT union, said he planned to set up a “workers’ alliance” party to stand against Labour MPs.
The creation of a new left-wing party could be a disaster for Labour. In the 2005 election, the Tories missed out by just over 40 seats because right-wing voters backed UKIP instead of them.
A similar split in the Labour vote next time could hand the same number of seats to the Tories.
Mr Brown will give the unions a blunt warning: “Don’t risk your members’ jobs or the nation’s future with the Tories.”
But he will also give his most optimistic assessment so far on the state of the economy. After taking eight months to admit Britain was in a recession, he will say: “Today we are on a road towards recovery — but things are still fragile and the recovery needs to be nurtured.
“People’s livelihoods and homes and savings are still hanging in the balance, and so today I say to you, Don’t put the recovery at risk.”
Mr Brown will warn that the Tories will slash jobs and force pay cuts on workers. But last night Shadow Chancellor George Osborne blasted these claims.
He said: “A strong and honest Prime Minister would have told the unions the truth about the need to cut spending.
“Instead, this weak, isolated Labour leader is telling his election paymasters what they want to hear.”