Employment issues at heart of Chancellor’s conference speech

Employment
issues formed a key plank in Gordon Brown’s keynote speech to the Labour Party
Conference in Brighton today.

Among
the measures the Chancellor promised were extending paid maternity leave to up
to 12 months, introducing a minimum wage for 16 and 17-year-olds for the first
time, and guaranteed training for the unemployed.

Responding
to union calls for above-inflation pay rises for senior civil servants, Brown
ruled out "irresponsible" pay rises before next year’s expected
election.

On
the issue of skills, Brown said he would meet the challenge from high-growth,
low-cost economies such as China
and India.

"China
and India’s
wages are just 5 per cent of ours, but I say to you: we will not compete by
lowering our wages or lowering our standards, but by raising our skills,"
he said.

The
Chancellor also promised government action on pension provision.

He
told the conference: "I tell you, we will work with the unions to do what
it takes to tackle the gross injustice of workers who through no fault of their
own find their pensions have been destroyed.

"We
will do what it takes to make sure that all workers can have security and
dignity in retirement."

By Daniel Thomas

 

 

 

 

 

 

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