Page last updated at 13:13 GMT, Monday, 14 September 2009 14:13 UK

TUC rejects claims of UK recovery

Barber: 'Green shoots mean little when thousands... are joining the dole queue'

The head of Britain's trade union movement has rejected government claims that the UK is coming out of recession.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber told the body's Congress in Liverpool that recovery would take root only when unemployment starts to fall.

He said in such "tough times" plans to spend billions of pounds on ID cards and Trident were "wrong, wrong, wrong".

He also poured scorn on Tory plans to cut spending, saying they would cause the economy to "nose dive".


In his opening speech to the TUC Congress in Liverpool, Mr Barber urged caution with some economists saying there are signs of an economic recovery. He said: "The economy has fallen off a cliff. Green shoots mean little when thousands of people a day are joining the dole queue.

"Rising share prices count for little when a million and more young people can't find work.

"And bumper bonuses, well they're an obscene joke...

"It is only when unemployment comes down, only when we create decent jobs that pay decent wages and only when vital public services are safe from cuts that we will be able to talk about a real recovery."

He said that, although the young are least to blame for the economic crisis, they were likely to suffer most from it.

Mr Barber said it was vital that Britain did not write off a generation to unemployment and roundly criticised Conservative plans to cut public spending.

"I am so horrified when I hear the Conservatives talk of public expenditure cuts which would turn any progress towards economic recovery into a nosedive back into recession.

Brendan Barber says cuts would only promote recession

"Here in this city which was so scared by the riots of the 1980s, let us remember the crippling economic and social costs of the Tory recessions and let us resolve: never, ever, again."

Mr Barber also criticised the government's plans to replace the Trident nuclear deterrent, saying: "Spending countless billions on new nukes, when we're failing to meet our target on child poverty, is wrong, wrong, wrong."

Tony Woodley, general secretary of the Unite union, told the BBC: "We've got a situation where the spivs and speculators have made themselves fortunes and have made made misery for millions of us in Britain today.

"It's right that victims shouldn't have to pay for the excesses of others."

Meanwhile, the business secretary is to outline the government's spending strategy at a speech at the London School of Economics.

He will say the government will be "wise spenders, not big spenders", and that Labour will continue the economic stimulus and has a plan to pay back debt, without eating into the fabric of people's lives.

However he will say: "We do not believe that we should try to solve problems simply by throwing money at them."

Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman Vince Cable called for the debate to move on, saying "big ticket areas" such as "defence commitments, public sector pensions and tax credits" needed to be examined.

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