Blair calls for better support from unions

Tony
Blair has called on unions to get behind the Labour Government or face losing
the union-friendly workplace reforms brought in by the party in its first two
terms.

The
Prime Minister said that the introduction of the minimum wage, union protection
laws and near full employment are achievements that should be built on by both
Labour and the unions together.

"The
challenge for the trade unions is one that faces all of us – how to adapt to
change," he told the TUC conference in Brighton
today. "Today, I ask you as social partners to help the country succeed."

He
said government and the unions needed to build on the achievements of the Warwick
policy forum – the annual meeting to decide Labour policies.

"We
cannot go back to the 1970s, and the reforms of the public services, as well as
the investment, are vital to providing better services," Blair said.
"Union members are also service users and it is everyone’s interests that
reforms succeed."

Blair
attempted to quell union fears that the agreements thrashed out at Warwick
would be overturned by Alan Milburn, who recently returned to oversee Labour’s
re-election strategy.

“Warwick
should be seen not as diluting the changes we have made but conditioning them
with one very basic set of principles at its heart,” he said.

“Good
jobs don’t come with bad work practices; successful employers don’t succeed by
abusing their employees; quality public services don’t achieve excellence by
undervaluing public servants.”

By Daniel Thomas

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