Fear of huge job losses is giving a massive boost to the pro-euro lobby in
the Government, according to Sir Ken Jackson, general secretary of the AEEU.
Sir Ken, the union leader closest to Tony Blair, told Personnel Today that
Downing Street had been "extremely relaxed" about his recent
criticisms of lack of leadership over the euro – be-cause he was making the
Prime Minister’s argument for him.
Inward investors are "bending my ear week in week out" over the
euro, said Sir Ken. Many are threatening withdrawal of investment if Britain
does not give a clearer commitment to join.
"I have had conversations with inward investors over the last two weeks
and they have told me categorically that Britain must join the euro," he
said. "They want to limit costs as far as possible, and exchange rate
instability is reducing profits."
The AEEU estimates that 150,000 of its membership of about 750,000 are
directly dependent on inward investors. These jobs would go if the parent firm
relocated to a country which is part of monetary union.
Sir Ken declined to name which companies are considering withdrawal.
Many inward investors, principally from the Far East, have set up plants in
Britain to benefit from the relatively low employment costs and access to the
single market. But the usefulness of the single market is limited while the UK
stays out of the single currency, adding to transaction costs. The high level
of the pound has eroded the value of exports.
New base boosts campaign
The AEEU has set up an office in Dundee to support its recruitment and
The union, which has pioneered partnership agreements, also announced two
further recognition deals. One was at Dundee-based wheelchair manufacturer
Lomax Mobility, which employs 140; the other was at assembly firm APW, with 130
staff – where the AEEU has over 70 per cent membership.
AEEU leader Sir Ken Jackson plans to invite business leaders from the Dundee
region to meet with union officials. Under statutory union recognition
arrangements, due to come into effect in the spring, a union with majority
membership in a company or business unit will qualify for automatic
Consultation papers on the new law were published this month.