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Saturday, 7 September, 2002, 05:51 GMT 06:51 UK
Union leader shuns Blair
Derek Simpson
Simpson: Speaks out against the euro
The new boss of trade union Amicus, Derek Simpson, has turned down the opportunity to meet Tony Blair at next week's TUC conference.

The Labour left-winger made the decision because he "didn't particularly want to talk" to the prime minister.


Nobody's interested in the euro, we're not bothered about whether we get paid in euros or pounds

Derek Simpson
Mr Simpson was a self-confessed unknown when he defeated one of Tony Blair's closest union allies, Sir Ken Jackson, to be joint boss of what is now the UK's second largest union.

When he takes control of the engineering and manufacturing union in January, Mr Simpson says he will be much firmer in standing up for union policy.

Open in new window : Trade unions guide
The big unions at TUC 2002

In an interview with News 24 political editor Nick Robinson on the BBC's One to One programme, Mr Simpson also says the euro is not of interest to working people.

But it is his comments about meeting Tony Blair that will raise most eyebrows.

Mr Simpson said he was told that the prime minister set some time aside to meet union leaders at the congress and did he want to be one of them.

No to Tony

Mr Simpson said: "I thought what do I want to see Tony Blair for, I haven't actually got anything, I don't particularly want to say anything to him, so I said 'the answer's no, I don't particularly want to see Tony Blair'."

Tony Blair
Mr Blair faces a showdown at the TUC conference
Mr Simpson added that he thought the prime minister would let it be known if he wanted a meeting.

During the interview, Mr Simpson also defends his days as a former communist saying that he was more involved in the industrial than the political side.

He also says that he believes the concept of unions and bosses working in partnership is "waffle" arguing that management are there to run companies and unions to ensure their membership is fairly treated.

When Mr Simpson defeated Sir Ken in a membership ballot, the prime minister lost one of the most vocal supporters within the union movement of UK entry into the euro.

Mr Simpson has since suggested he will canvass opinion among his membership to see if they want their money spent on campaigning for the euro.

Uninterested?

But it is clear that he thinks there is a low level of interest among members of Amicus.

"Nobody's interested in the euro, we're not bothered about whether we get paid in euros or pounds, people are bothered about whether they get paid.

"Whether we've got jobs and security, whether their pension's safe.

"And if you go out on the street and say to the average person, never mind the average trade union, never mind the average member, the only people ask me about the euro is the media. Members aren't interested."

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 ON THIS STORY
Amicus leader Derek Simpson
"I am a supporter of the Labour Party"

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See also:

18 Jul 02 | Politics
04 Jul 02 | Education
02 Jul 02 | Politics
12 Mar 02 | Politics
02 Apr 01 | Business
18 Jul 02 | Politics
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