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The General Secretary of the MSF union replies to Trade Secretary Peter Mandelson
YESTERDAY, YOU quoted Peter Mandelson as saying that we are "partners in creating a modernised and fair society". Splendid! This is exactly what we have been working towards.

MSF members want to be involved, to be consulted and to have influence. They are skilled and professional people who have the ideas, knowledge and the commitment to make Britain's industries and services the best in the world, in an economy based on high skills and partnership.

At present most of our members feel excluded. Excluded from the decisions that affect them most - the future of their own jobs. MSF believes the way forward and the way to safeguard their jobs is to work together as partners.

To be globally competitive as a country requires all of us to play our part. It is especially vital that our manufacturing industry competes globally to provide the wealth our society needs to deliver the promises of new Labour. In this the government obviously has a role.

I agree with what Peter Mandelson says - there are limits on national economic policy in the new environment, but the government can play a role in re-invigorating a flagging national economy. The current high interest rates are affecting the ability of industry to invest and therefore holding back British industry. It is not just unions that are saying this but also the employers.

So it is with real disappointment that I read that Peter opposes our view that growth should be considered as part of the criteria for fixing interest rates. I urge him to think again.

Manufacturing companies up and down the land are facing difficulties. The government will be judged by its success in developing this vital part of our economy. I am sure it is a test that they will pass in partnership with unions and employers.