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Wednesday, October 7, 1998 Published at 13:13 GMT 14:13 UK

Business: The Economy

Workers demand interest rate cut

The Bank of England is under growing pressure to cut rates

Workers calling for a cut in interest rates took their campaign to the steps of the Bank of England warning that huge parts of industry face "devastation".

More than 200 workers from throughout the UK lobbied the crucial meeting of the Bank's Monetary Policy Committee, which is under increasing pressure to reduce rates.

General Secretary MSF Roger Lyons: 'Thousands of jobs are at risk'
The demonstration in the City of London, organised by the Manufacturing Science and Finance Union, came after a warning by chancellor Gordon Brown that the economy will only grow by 1% next year instead of 2.5%.

[ image: MSF General Secretary Roger Lyons]
MSF General Secretary Roger Lyons
The workers held up banners which read "Save Jobs in Industry" and "Drop 'em Eddie".

The union's general secretary Roger Lyons, handed in a letter to the bank warning that up to 250,000 manufacturing jobs were at risk because of pressure on firms caused by the high value of the pound and high interest rates.

Mr Lyons said: "Manufacturing desperately needs a break and we urge the committee to cut interest rates by at least 1%.

"Central banks in America and Spain have recently cut interest rates - now is the time for our Bank to act."

Workers from the West Midlands, the South West, the North East and Wales joined in the protest.

Chris Luker is one of 670 workers about to lose his job through the closure of the Grove forklift factory in Sunderland next month.

He said: "Our company blamed high interest rates for its decision.

"If the Bank does cut interest rates it would come too late for me, but there are tens of thousands of jobs in the North East which depend on inward investments which are at risk because of the ridiculously high interest rates."

Jim Simms, the MSF's regional officer in Nottingham criticised the make-up of the Monetary Policy Committee, which he said should contain more people with experience of manufacturing industry.

The Monetary Policy Committee will announce its decision on rates at noon tomorrow.

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