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EDITIONS
Tuesday, 29 September, 1998, 13:26 GMT 14:26 UK
Unions want 'jam today'
Rodney Bickerstaffe
Bickerstaffe: public sector pay rises should not be staged
The chancellor's refusal to signal a change in economic policies has come under strong attack from the unions.

Responding to Gordon Brown's keynote address to the Labour conference in Blackpool, in which he re-stated his aim of creating long term economic stability, Unison leader Rodney Bickerstaffe called for immediate public sector pay rises.

Taking the conference floor after Mr Brown he said: "Don't just give us a vision of the promised land, give us a place in it."

Mr Bickerstaffe argued against staged pay rises for public sector workers, saying that if the economy was strong enough to pay off 20bn of the national debt and to inject 40bn into public services:

Gordon Brown
Brown: no return to short termism
"Why on earth was it necessary for a Labour government to claw back from nurses and midwives and other poorly paid workers the pay rises awarded to them?"

'Time for a change'

He urged the chancellor: "Can I plead, plead for change. Let's try a new, fairer way for public sector pay, so far behind the private sector and the huge City and boardroom hikes. Not jam yesterday, not jam tomorrow, but a little bit of jam today for those who will look after you tomorrow."

John Edmonds, GMB union general secretary, followed up Mr Bickerstaffe's criticism of the chancellor by calling for a 'mature debate' on the economy.

"The massive gap between boardroom pay and the rest of the workforce is disgraceful and encourages confrontation when we need to work together.

'Mature debate'

"We need to get into a mature debate about these issues - grown-up politics - to keep us out of recession. They call it social dialogue on the continent and I hope the government will find the courage to try it before we write another chapter in the history of Britain's economic decline."

John Edmonds
Edmonds: time for "social dialogue"
Meanwhile Mike Griffiths, of the Graphical, Paper and Media Union, criticised the government's response to the wave of recent job losses.

He told delegates: "When manufacturing jobs go, they don't come back. This isn't me talking us into a recession. It's the real world, the world I live in - no spin, no media hype."

Arguing for a cut in interest rates, he said: "We need a commitment to safeguarding jobs and ... full employment."

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29 Sep 98 | UK Politics
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