Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Action Needed in the North

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Action Needed in the North

Article excerpt

Byline: By Kevin Rowan

Today is the start of the annual TUC Congress conference in Brighton. Kevin Rowan, TUC Northern Region secretary, will be at the four-day event

Along with several colleagues from the North-east I am looking forward to enjoying the TUC Congress in Brighton.

Our conference is held just a few weeks before the Labour Party conference so the TUC provides an opportunity for the trade union `big guns' to fire a few shots across the party of Government. A chance I am sure they will take.

For although a good deal of progress was made for all sides to be proud of in the National Policy Forum in Warwick earlier this year, there are still a number of areas where trade unions wish to see greater and quicker action and those areas are increasingly important to the North East.

While there is much good news about employment in the North East, manufacturing is critical to our region, and trade unions are simply not convinced that this Government is taking it seriously enough.

We spend less supporting this sector than other countries do, we consistently exclude it from descriptions of the future, `knowledge-driven' economy, despite the fact that some of the most creative brains and technical innovation occur in the sector.

Amicus are calling for a Government Minister dedicated to manufacturing and I think we could all see the sense in that.

The major employer in our region is the public sector and our enthusiasm inspired by the Government's intention to relocate large numbers of high level public sector jobs out of London and the South East was somewhat tempered by the Chancellor's remarks about swingeing cuts in the Civil Service. From hero to zero was how one union official described it.

There will, without doubt, be some lively debate about that on the floor of Congress, with the general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union, Mark Serwotka, having done an excellent job in getting the country to realise we are talking about workers who provide a service people depend on here, and they are often among the lowest paid public sector workers too. …

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