Brown must make ‘a fresh start’ says union

Only a completely new approach to public services will reverse low morale among workers, the Trade Union Congress (TUC) has warned Gordon Brown.

In a submission to a forthcoming Comprehensive Spending Review, the union savaged the government’s “ill thought out” reforms of public services and below inflation pay rises in the sector.

Gordon Brown accepted advice from the pay review body that suggested awards were kept within the government’s two per cent inflation market, and the two-stage pay rise that followed was the lowest in ten years.

The TUC also berated Mr Brown’s commitment to further privatisation of public services, government plans to cut 100,000 civil service jobs, and cuts in vital services, “including those to some of the most vulnerable members of the community”.

TUC leader Brendan Barber said: “A new approach should be on the top of Gordon Brown’s in-tray. He should end the jobs cut arms race with the other parties, and instead start a national debate on how best to pay for the modern public services the country needs.

“He should start by dismissing CBI calls for lower business tax, and move on to examine both the potential for new green taxes and launch a major crackdown on tax avoidance by the super-rich – which has now become a big burden on the hard-working majority who pay their fair share.”

The submission called on the government to work more closely with trade unions and workers when making decisions on public services.

It called for well thought out policy making “founded on a sound evidence base”, democratically accountable services, and “respect for the public service ethos”.

Despite their financial importance to the Labour party, trade union petitions to Downing Street over issues such as pay and privatisation have generally fallen on deaf ears.

The government has said no organisation “can be immune from the need for change”.

Some commentators have suggested that Brown’s coronation as leader could mark a leftward shift in the Labour party, but he has so-far committed himself to continuing what unions describe as Tony Blair’s effort to privatise Britain’s welfare state.