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‘End the public sector pay cap’ – Labour conference

Labour will be challenged to end its support for the 1% public sector pay cap at its conference in Brighton today.

Unison is leading attempts to overturn the cap by forcing a conference vote on the issue, and unions say they are “confident” that it will be endorsed.

Interviewed by Andrew Marr at the weekend, Labour leader Ed Miliband refused to be drawn on scrapping the cap, which Chancellor George Osborne extended in the March Budget for another year until 2015-16.

He said: “That’s got to be looked at. We’re conducting, as any opposition would do, a review of all items of government spending, all of the hundreds of millions of pounds of government spending, because it’s really important than anything we come forward with is properly costed.”

Len McCluskey, general secretary of the Unite union, suggested that unions would ditch Labour if it fails to stand up for public sector workers, saying: “Labour has no god-given right to exist – it can only exist if it speaks for ordinary working people. Demonstrate that you’re on our side.”

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls has pledged to stick to the Coalition’s revenue spending plans for the 2015-16 financial year – though he has made no such pledge on capital spending. In his speech, Balls is expected to say: “We won’t be able to reverse all the spending cuts and tax rises the Tories have pushed through. The next Labour government will have to make cuts too. Because, while jobs and growth are vital to getting the deficit down, they cannot magic the whole deficit away at a stroke.”

At the Lib Dem conference in Glasgow last week, leader Nick Clegg claimed credit for blocking plans to implement regional pay deals for the public sector.

But Wales’ Labour first minister Carwyn Jones told his party’s conference at the weekend that it was what happened in Wales that prompted the change, saying: “When the Tories tried to undermine UK-wide pay agreements by floating the idea of the regional pay, we knew that for thousands of public sector workers in Wales and other parts of England such a move would mean less money for some of the most lowest paid workers in the UK.

“Not only did we say ‘no’ in Wales – we backed up our message of opposition with hard facts and hard evidence that destroyed the UK Government’s case to force it through.”

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email [email protected]

(Image: Chris Ison/PA Wire)


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