Government to make the case for manufacturing despite union doom merchants

The
Government is set to hit back at union "doom and gloom" today by
telling a TUC-sponsored conference that the manufacturing sector has vacancies
waiting to be filled.

According
to newspaper reports, Patricia Hewitt, the secretary of state for trade and
industry, will warn unions not to talk down the sector and concentrate on
promoting the industry.

She
will go on to say that 250,000 manufacturing vacancies were reported to Job
Centres in the past 12 months and that British manufacturing has "a good
story to tell".

The
CBI employers’ body has also criticised unions for living in the past and
warned that too much doom and gloom could cause damage.

However,
Kevin Curran, general secretary of the GMB union, refuted these claims.

"Patricia
Hewitt needs to spend less time talking shop in her department and more time on
the shopfloor," he said.

"Nobody
who knows or cares about the decline in the manufacturing base in this country
could have come out with something so blatantly misleading.

"To
stop the decline, Britain needs to grow its manufacturing industry and nurture
its workforce, as governments do successfully across Europe. We need
intervention, we need state aid raised up to the EU average and we need the
Government to create a level playing field for procurement," Curran said.

A TUC
report last week claimed that 750,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost since
Labour came to power in 1997.

By
Mike Berry

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