BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Business  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
E-Commerce
Economy
Market Data
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Tuesday, 26 November, 2002, 15:27 GMT
CBI makes its point

"Digby Digby Digby, out out out."

That was the chant that greeted the head of the employers' organisation when he arrived for the CBI's annual conference.

But Digby Jones did not mind the chorus from a group of girls taking part in a demonstration by the union Amicus about equal pay for women.

In fact, he was rather pleased that, for the first time, a CBI conference had attracted demonstrators.

It seemed to be a sign that it was not only the country's bosses who thought the organisation could make a difference.

And there were more demonstrations.

People arrested

Striking firefighters left picket lines around Manchester to stage their own noisy protest after Mr Jones said the government should stand firm in the dispute over firefighters' pay.

Anti-war demonstrators went one step further by rushing into the conference centre and confronting staff on the BP stand - drawing a link between oil and possible war with Iraq.

Security was stepped up, but the same group struck again on Tuesday, hurling red dye over the BP stand and two of its staff.

Two people were taken away by police and Mr Jones promised to co-operate to make sure they were prosecuted.

No more taxes

Meanwhile, the promised punch-up between the CBI and the government failed to materialise. On the conference platform the big issue has been taxes and the relationship between business and government.

The Chancellor Gordon Brown was applauded for saying that he would not take risks with economic stability.

But companies do not really trust him when he says there will be no more business taxes.

However, the CBI is firmly on the government's side when it comes to fire strike.

Speaker after speaker called for pay restraint - something the unions said smacked of hypocrisy, given the huge increases in company bosses' pay.

The CBI is also behind the government in its drive for private-public partnerships to boost investment in infrastructure projects like roads, schools, and hospitals.

On-off affair

But while the business community wants some of the government's money to fill its own coffers, it is reluctant to put its hands in its pockets any further.

"Over recent years business has become a cash-cow for the government's ambitious spending plans," Mr Jones said in his closing speech.

And he warned the government that businesses felt the UK was in danger of losing its economic advantage.

It had been billed as the conference that would show the love affair between the CBI and Labour had cooled.

But Mr Jones said he never thought there was a cosy relationship with the government and neither did he think of it as antagonistic.

The conference itself might have changed nothing between Gordon Brown and business.

More important is what the Chancellor is going to offer or take away in Wednesday's pre-Budget report.

That will really determine how the relationship between Labour and business develops in the future.


Key stories

Analysis

FORUM

AUDIO VIDEO
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Business stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Business stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes