Unions accuse Gordon Brown of siding with business rather than workers

Gordon Brown has been accused of siding with big business against workers as unions gear up for a major assault on his first days when he becomes prime minister.


Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) general secretary Mark Serwotka told Personnel Today that Brown listened too much to the CBI.


PCS members last week voted unanimously to ramp up their campaign against civil service job cuts, pay levels and privatisation.


They also passed a motion prioritising joint strikes with other public sector unions, for which they have the support of Unison and the National Union of Teachers.


However, work and pensions secretary John Hutton reassured a CBI conference on the same day that “a continuing commitment to reforming our public services will be central to the government’s agenda”.


Serwotka said: “At the moment, Brown’s actions are more in line with what the CBI is calling for than what we want. We hope that when he becomes prime minister he will reflect on this disastrous policy.”


There could be “widespread industrial action” by the end of the summer, Serwotka added, after votes at the union’s annual conference in Brighton. He did not rule out targeting Brown’s speech at the Labour Party conference in September.


PCS members held one-day strikes on 31 January and 1 May this year, and Serwotka hinted at longer walk-outs in the future. The dispute stems from the government’s decision in July 2004 to make £21.5bn of savings in the public sector over four years.


John Cridland, CBI deputy director-general, said at the employers’ organisation conference: “Public sector reform needs to be accelerated and the government needs to illustrate how it looks at public spending.”


by Greg Pitcher in Brighton and Gareth Vorster in London

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