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Last Updated: Monday, 10 September 2007, 13:51 GMT 14:51 UK
Brown speech in full
Prime Minister Gordon Brown has given a speech to the TUC on how he plans to get Britain closer to full employment than ever before.

Let me at this 139th congress of the TUC, thank you, Alison, for your leadership as President of this Congress - and thank you Brendan and the General Council for your leadership - week in week out - of the British trade union movement.

And I am pleased to start this speech by offering my personal congratulations to the TUC award winners today: Lorene, Patrick, Irene, Lisa, Lynda, Peter and Russell.

Your struggles, your aspirations and your commitment to learn show graphically how we in Britain can respond - and are responding - to the fundamental restructuring of today's global economy - thousands now obtaining new skills needed to succeed in the future.

For almost two centuries of history the trade union movement has been about enhancing the dignity and worth of labour.

And today we have found a new role which makes the tasks we undertake more relevant, more urgent and more demanding than ever: to enhance the dignity and value of labour in the twenty first century it is undeniable that we need to enhance the skills of every worker in the country.

And so the new enhanced role of the trade union is to bargain for skills, campaign for skills, invest for skills, and for the fair reward of skills, and it is this challenge - how we in Britain, all of us, raise our game, meet and master the new forces of globalisation, that I want to speak about this morning.

The task of the future, as I will argue today, and as I have believed all my life - from part-time trade union tutor to Prime Minister - is that by enhancing the dignity and value of labour we will make Britain the best trained, best educated, best skilled, nation in the world.

And this is my central message today: ? all of us must prepare for the global era ? and we must maximise its opportunities for working people and seek to minimise its insecurities ? nothing should stand in the way of building jobs and prosperity not just for some but for all British working people ? and if we do so and mobilise the talents of all our people then I believe Britain can be the great success story of this new age.

But first I have a particularly joyous task - to pass on to you the words of the man whose statue I unveiled in Parliament Square a few days ago: Nelson Mandela.

He asked to send his heartfelt thanks to each and every one of you for your ceaseless commitment and sustained support in the struggle that defeated the evil of apartheid.

And now let us from here send him our greetings as he prepares for his 90th birthday next year.

I said at that ceremony in Parliament Square that Nelson Mandela's statue is not a monument to past achievement but a beacon of hope for the future.

It sends a signal that no injustice can last forever.

That suffering in the cause of liberty is never in vain.

That there is nothing that those in the cause of justice cannot achieve if they stand together.

And I say to you today from Make Poverty History internationally to campaigning for justice at home, that: as long as there is poverty? as long as there is unfairness? wherever discrimination or injustice exists? there we must be also.

Of the great struggles of the 20th century: - against the dark night of fascism, and Nazism, and anti Semitism? - against the shame of apartheid? - and for the victory of democracy and equal rights at home and abroad? British working people played a decisive role.

And in this century, the twenty first, we have injustice to fight - and I promise you our voice will be heard from demanding an end to the denial of democracy in Burma, to supporting a ceasefire with justice for the two million displaced peoples of Darfur, and to supporting peace with justice in the Middle East.

We have terrorist extremism to fight whether in Afghanistan or in the twenty countries including Iraq in which Al Qaeda have bombed and maimed innocent people.

It is important to say today that we will do our duty, keep our promises, and honour and discharge our obligations to the international community and to the new democracy in Iraq.

And we have justice to build in Africa - so just as we stood side by side to overcome apartheid, I now join Nelson Mandela in asking you to be part of the Education for All campaign so that the day will dawn when 80 million children who will not go to school today because there are no schools to go to will have the basic human right of education.

I have been in Africa and I have met children who if given the chance could be the next Mandela, or a doctor who saves lives, or a teacher who inspires children.

And let us by raising development aid and mobilising the world's resources not only eradicate illiteracy in the coming decade but use our medical knowledge and science to eradicate one by one the killer diseases - malaria, TB, polio, diphtheria and then HIV/AIDS.

And even as we together face the forces of globalisation let us ensure that in rich and poor countries alike, all children and all working families are not the victims but the beneficiaries, the winners and not the losers from global change.

In the last twenty years, with a trebling of world trade, with two billion new workers in Asia, the global economy has been transformed at a speed and on a scale not seen since the industrial revolution.

Let us face facts: soon 25 per cent of the world's output could come from just two countries: China and India.

In Britain, famous household name companies that employed thousands just a few years ago - from GEC to BTR - have virtually disappeared.

Already an Indian company has bought British Steel, an Egyptian company has taken over one of Italy's largest telecommunications firms, and a Brazilian company has become the world's second largest mining enterprise.

And we cannot dismiss the change we see - as is sometimes said as China and India take over the low tech industries - as a race to the bottom where the answer is simply protecting home industries, shutting foreign goods out, and sheltering from change.

Already India's biggest earning exports are not tea and clothing, but computer software and management services.

China is producing now just half the world's textiles but today half of the world's computers, 60 per cent of all mobile phones and digital cameras, and 80 per cent of some of the more sophisticated electronic goods.

And already China and India are now turning out more engineers, more computer scientists, more university graduates than the whole of Europe and America combined.

And when it comes to our members jobs, the most important fact is this: the world has seen a 400 per cent rise in the ranks of unskilled workers, and just think about what that means for our need to acquire skills.

In Asia a worker is doing a week's unskilled work for twenty pounds a week rather than the average three hundred a week here.

So the answer is clear - it's a new role for new trade unionism in Britain - our workers given the power to acquire the skills that give us the bargaining power, the higher wages, and then the prosperity.

It's a point of principle for me as it will be for you: the answer is not to compete on low skills with ever lowering standards but to compete on ever higher skills - most of all ensuring especially that all our children and young people have the training, the skills, and the qualifications to hold down secure, well paid, high quality jobs in Britain in the future.

And so the sheer scale, scope and size of the global economic change must be a wake up call to us all.

We must rise to the challenges of the new global economy: businesses, trade unionists, teachers, politicians, all of us.

And we will only meet the new challenges ahead - financing education for all our children, providing the best work life balance with more child care for all working families, ensuring dignity and security for all in retirement, creating the best of standards for all in the workplace - if we can meet and master the global economic challenge ahead.

Some people think that the twenty first century will be China's century.

But I think that we have the skills, the inventiveness, the creativity, and the spirit of enterprise, to make it a British century.

And some people argue that to make it in this fast moving world of change we have to sacrifice enduring values and give up on full employment and universal services.

But when people ask in this world of faster moving change than ever before - of greater opportunities and yet greater insecurities than ever before - can we, the British people, in this generation, meet and master the new challenges and still achieve our goal of full employment, defend and strengthen public services? And ensure that the hard working people of Britain are better off in living standards and pensions? My answer is that if we work as a country and together raise our game? if we do not resist change but embrace it and make it a force for progress? and if we equip ourselves with investment in science, enterprise and flexibility? and most of all if we upgrade our education and skills? then we can not only meet and master the realities of globalisation but also ensure: - more British jobs - higher British living standards - and better British public services including an NHS that improves every year, free at the point of need.

And that means that together our country must embrace a new mission for this generation: to unlock the potential of all the talent of all the people of Britain.

In the next few days we will announce plans to make us world class in science, in innovation and in the creative industries, and make sure also that inventions created here are developed here, produced here, and provide jobs to men and women in Britain.

In the next few weeks too we will show with our announcements in the spending review how we will invest in the infrastructure of the future and how the issue for the British economy is not manufacturing giving way to services, but building modern manufacturing and service strength in all regions of the country.

I tell all those who like me have faith in the future of British manufacturing from aerospace and vehicles to IT and pharmaceuticals, that Britain will lead in the high tech, high value, high quality, manufacturing and services of the future.

And while demanding a level playing field in Europe and demanding also, right through the negotiations, that the red lines we have set are guaranteed in detail in the amended treaty, we will at all times continue to stand up for British interests in Europe.

In the next few days too we will show how as we prepare for a low carbon future thousands of jobs will come from investment in our environment, in new technology products and processes - from carbon capture and storage to innovative low carbon fuels - where Britain can be a world leader creating new jobs for the future.

And with our comprehensive spending round we will show the British people how we will expand the national health service - free when you need it, access founded not on wealth but need.

And how we will build more houses to buy and to let, with a 50 per cent increase in social housing.

But today I want to suggest new ways that we can respond to globalisation by creating more jobs for British men and women and for young people throughout our economy.

After I took over this job, I asked for a study to be done of where the jobs of the future can come from.

I found that while in the next decade we will need fewer unskilled jobs, we will need 5 million more skilled jobs, and I want us to be ready and prepared for the biggest transformation in employment our economy has seen for a hundred years.

And that there are great opportunities now: that in addition to 29 million jobs in our economy - the highest ever level of employment in our history - there are even today two thirds of a million vacancies waiting to be filled - 654,000 in all.

And because the vacancies go right across the board in manufacturing and finance to hospitality and healthcare, because the vacancies now exist in every region and nation, and because they range across all the skills, our task in the coming years is to rapidly match workers needing jobs to the jobs needing workers.

One of the benefits of globalisation is the benefits we receive in many industries from the skills of workers from around the world.

But it is absolutely essential that we ensure that British workers receive all the support, training and skills so they can share in the benefits of globalisation too.

And the new jobs that are coming and the vacancies now available represent a great new opportunity for British young people and adults as never before - and a huge opportunity for British trades unions to recruit, expand union learning, and grow your numbers.

I want to thank you all because I was there with you as you campaigned for jobs, lobbied for jobs, demonstrated for jobs, petitioned for jobs, and marched for jobs.

And as a result of what we have achieved the number of jobs in our economy has risen by almost 3 million in the last ten years - that's 3 million men and women who otherwise would have been without work who are in work today.

And we are now ready together to take the next big step forward: with jobs today available for more than 30 million men and women for the first time in our history we can - if we make the right decisions - advance closer to full employment than ever - with a British job on offer for every British worker.

And so today I am proposing we work together to fast track British workers into jobs that we know exist - and we work together to implement rapidly five practical changes that between them will yield half a million jobs.

First, for decades the barrier to workers being in work was the lack of jobs.

Today with these two thirds of a million vacancies, the bigger barrier to full employment is not the lack of jobs but the lack of skills - and the lack of links between employers who need workers and workers who need jobs.

I want you to work with us as we talk to 200 of Britain's largest companies and I can announce that 64 of the best known - from Sainsbury's in retail to HBOS and RBS in banking and finance, and to Travelodge and Compass in hospitality - have already committed to take on, train up and offer job opportunities to British men and women who today are inactive or unemployed.

Between now and 2010 by this measure alone means a total of 250,000 extra new job opportunities for British workers.

Just take one big national project - as we build the Olympic facilities we should train up local young people for the construction industry.

And our plan is to help 5,000 local workers into jobs and ensure that jobs in London should and can go to local young men and women.

But second, let me say as well that we can only create thousands more jobs and move faster to full employment if having defeated inflation in the last ten years we continue to defeat inflation in the next ten years.

This week will see the fifteenth anniversary of the most humiliating day for British economic policy in modern history - the Black Wednesday of 15 per cent interest rates, the exit from the ERM, mortgage misery, record repossessions, negative equity, and 3 million unemployed.

And if we were to again allow inflation to get out of control by repeating the same mistakes of fifteen years ago we would be back to the same old familiar pattern of spiralling prices, high unemployment, a mortgage crisis and public spending cuts.

And it is because we must never return again to those days when reckless promises that you could simultaneously cut taxes, raise spending and cut borrowing were made and then inflation was allowed to get out of control causing 3 million unemployed, 16 billion public spending cuts, and a wave of half a million repossessions, that this Government will always put stability first.

No loss of discipline, no resort to the easy options, no unaffordable promises, no taking risks with inflation, so let me be straightforward with you; pay discipline is essential to prevent inflation, to maintain growth and create more jobs - and so that we never return to the old boom and bust of the past.

And because this government will take no risks with the economy and only make promises we can afford, for me it will be stability first now and in the future - stability yesterday, today and tomorrow - and that will mean more jobs.

Third, I can also announce further measures to fast track thousands more into jobs that are vacant.

To guarantee for the first time a job interview for every lone parent in this country who is looking for work and is ready for work.

A new deal whereby prospective employees are invited in to the workplace for on-site discussions.

A new financial offer guaranteeing to pay 6 weeks of benefits during a work trial for all lone parents.

And where training is required a training allowance of at least 400.

And for the lone parent for the first year 40 a week extra - 60 a week in London - ensuring that work always pays.

And let me add: for those who come to Britain to do skilled work, we will require you to learn English - a requirement we are prepared to extend to lower skilled workers as well.

Fourth, fast track means more jobs by offering far better routes into work that will give young people the skills they need.

There are 85,000 more young people at college and university since 1997.

There are 340,000 more in work since 1997.

But at the same there are still too many teenagers post 16 who are not in education, training or a job.

So let me announce a fast track for out of work teenagers: all this summer's school leavers guaranteed a place on a pre-apprenticeship course or at college ------ a pathway to jobs for thousands of young men and women who have in the past fallen through the net.

And let all of us work together to improve what are the keys to our future - apprenticeships.

So I can announce today that we will also now create a new all-country service that matches the apprentices who need training to the companies and organisations who want young people to train.

And I say to trades unions in the public sector: we are ready to work with you now to expand apprenticeships into local government, the NHS and the civil service itself - as well as into new sectors of the youth labour market.

Our target to move apprenticeships from today's 250,000 to by 2020 twice as many, half a million for Britain.

And this is why your work in trade union learning becomes central to the future not just of trade unions but to our country.

Because you understand that to build for the future we must enhance the value of labour with skills, 50 unions are now engaged in the biggest transformation of trades unions since the growth of the shop steward movement: with today a total of 18,000 trained union learning reps in workplaces around the country.

And today your learning representatives - and I congratulate all of them - are succeeding in 700 separate workplaces helping 100,000 workers.

And to expand union learning in the workplace and to meet our ambition of one million adults in learning we will raise the money available for the Union Learning Fund from 12.

5 million to 15.

5 million next year.

And I call on all employers to join you in signing up to the skills pledge - a promise that every employee will have the right to gain basic skills.

And I repeat: if we do not make sufficient progress over the next three years, we will consider for employees in England who lack a good vocational qualification, a legal entitlement to workplace training.

And we want to stand with you to create good jobs and decent jobs where employees are fairly treated, so I am today talking to your General Secretary about how we work effectively together to make sure that today's vulnerable workers are tomorrow's secure workers.

Let us be clear: no employer should be allowed to avoid the minimum wage.

No employer should be allowed to impose unsafe or unacceptable conditions.

So we will stand with you to enforce all the conditions of the national minimum wage.

And let me say also: it is wrong that pizza delivery staff or farm workers could ever take home less than 5 a week because of deductions for, among other things, their transport or loans - practices which anger the decent majority of the British people.

The price of a job should never be a substandard wage or a dangerous workplace.

So we are taking new enforcement powers against the people traffickers who buy and sell illegal migrant labour.

We remember the tragedy of the cockle pickers of Morecambe Bay.

And we have responded to your calls for controls on gangmasters - and let me say we are not only introducing the gangmasters licensing authority, but this winter we will legislate to tighten agency regulation.

I applaud the work you have done to help migrant workers and to combat racism and bigotry against those here perfectly legally but who live in fear from unscrupulous employers who profit from fear.

And we will at all times stand up to expose and eliminate from every council hall in Britain the bigotry of the BNP.

We will continue to support the proposal for an Agency Workers Directive in Europe which the Portuguese presidency will push later this month.

And at the same time we in Britain will ensure four weeks annual holiday as of right - and thanks to your campaigning and the Warwick agreement, these will be in addition to bank holidays.

For parents of young children and carers rights to seek flexible working hours.

And of course not only the right in law to be represented by your union, but after years of campaigning and dialogue, after laying the foundation of tackling pensioner poverty, after introducing the pension protection fund, a new pension settlement where employers will now contribute by law to the pension of his employee and Britain is now on track to again link the basic state pension with earnings.

We also want to work with you in every area where workers are vulnerable - to reach out to those too unaware or too intimidated to complain, and to increase awareness of their rights among school leavers.

And we will now examine with you how by bringing the powers of all the enforcement agencies together they can be more effective.

And let me announce: we will now increase the maximum penalties for violation of the minimum wage, will raise the amount of compensation paid to workers who are owed arrears, and will in future target resources to projects aimed at the safety and security of those who are at risk.

So today I am issuing to you an invitation to work side by side in a national effort to raise skills and standards so that together we can meet and master the forces of globalisation.

Britain can succeed and lead in the new world economy.

And I will settle for nothing less.

Neither will you.

And neither will the British people.

So let us remember what we can achieve together.

Two hundred years ago this year it was the British people who came together and with the biggest mass petition that had ever been mounted in the history of our country brought the slave trade to an end.

Now in this century working together internationally and at home, this generation can record its own proud achievements.

Following the leadership of Nelson Mandela we can be first generation to ensure every child in every country in every continent has the right to go to school.

And let us also be the first generation to ensure another fundamental right: that every mother and infant child is protected against, and that we eliminate the scourges of tuberculosis, polio, diphtheria, malaria - and then HIV/AIDS.

And here at home let us be the first generation able to show the world that instead of a globalisation which benefits just a few, our country is a beacon for justice and fairness to all: the first country which can genuinely say we liberate not just some of the talents of some of the people but all of the talents of all of the people - and so ensure the objective we all seek: dignity, security and prosperity for all.

Thank you.



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