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Wednesday, 11 September, 2002, 19:15 GMT 20:15 UK
TUC fights off euro revolt
euro notes and coins
The TUC has traditionally backed the euro
The TUC leadership has fought off a revolt over its support for membership of the European single currency.


Don't take the TUC for granted, and don't expect British workers to accept a cheap and shoddy version of the European ideal

John Edmonds, GMB
Left-wing unions, including heavyweights Unison and TGWU, called on the government to postpone a referendum on the euro until after the next election.

But the conference voted by 3.5 million to 2.3 million to "press the case for positive support for UK membership of the single currency".

The vote is the clearest signal yet that the union movement is strongly divided over the single currency debate.

The TUC general council's pro-euro line got 52% of the votes, with 36% against and 12% abstaining.

Manufacturing jobs

Alan Laing, of the anti-euro No Campaign, said: "This is the softest pro-euro vote for years at a TUC Conference.

"Support is weakening all the time."

John Edmonds, of the strongly pro-euro GMB, warned the government it could not "click its fingers" and expect enthusiastic support from unions towards a referendum on the single currency.

And in a sop to the anti-euro lobby, he said the TUC would re-convene to discuss its support for the single currency when the Treasury publishes the results of its five economic tests.

Mr Edmonds told delegates in Blackpool government uncertainty over the euro was helping to lose 3,000 jobs a week in manufacturing.

'Unlit sign'

He said: "The government's official line is that we should prepare now and decide later.

"But how can we prepare adequately when all the headlines are grabbed by the antis and where the government's intention is as obscure as an unlit sign on a foggy road."

Mr Edmonds said the unions' vision of Europe, with strengthened workers rights and benefits, seemed different from that of the government.

He offered advice to ministers: "Don't take the TUC for granted, and don't expect British workers to accept a cheap and shoddy version of the European ideal."

'Undemocratic control'

Bill Morris, general secretary of the TGWU and a close ally of Chancellor Gordon Brown, made a strongly eurosceptic speech.

He said the only things going up in the eurozone were unemployment and prices.

And he urged Tony Blair to rule out a referendum in the lifetime of this Parliament and concentrate instead on improving public services.

Jane Carolan of Unison, the biggest single union at the conference, said spending on public services would come under the undemocratic control of the European Bank if the UK was in the single currency.

But Maureen Rooney of Amicus said a delayed referendum would lead to further job losses in manufacturing firms.


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11 Sep 02 | Politics
11 Sep 02 | Business
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