Bank chief invited to sample shop-floor the Shop-floor challenge for Bank chief

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The Independent Online
THE LEADER of Britain's biggest craft union yesterday challenged the governor of the Bank of England and his colleagues to "swap their lounge suits for overalls" and experience life on the shop floor.

Ken Jackson, leader of the Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union, is writing to Eddie George and members of the Monetary Policy Committee to offer them a guided tour of manufacturing companies the length and breadth of Britain.

Mr Jackson believes the committee's decision to reduce interest rates last week was "too little, too late" and was born of ignorance of the impact of its policies on ordinary people.

The union leader also called for the establishment of an all-party "manufacturing group" of MPs to ensure that industry has an influential voice at Westminster.

He argues that while 30 years ago many MPs came from manufacturing backgrounds, that was no longer the case. The AEEU has set up a pounds 1m fund to assist more working people to secure election to Parliament.

Mr Jackson's initiative follows assertions by Gordon Brown, the Chancellor, that unions are trying to hijack the interest rate-setting committee. The Manufacturing, Science, Finance technical and white collar union mounted a picket of the Bank of England last week as the committee made its decisions.

The engineering union believes the terms of reference of the committee should be altered so it could take into account of employment and output as well as inflation. Unlike other unions the AEEU has not called for manufacturing representatives to be appointed to the committee.

In his letter to Mr George, the engineering union leader offers to take the committee members to a wide range of businesses in traditional as well as high-tech sectors and from Scotland to the South-west of England. He wants the committee to hear the views of managers and shop-floor workers on interest rate policy and its effect on their lives.

Mr Jackson said it was time that the committee "came out of the shadows and entered the real world". He said they should experience life on the factory floor by "swapping their lounge suits for overalls and see for themselves the effect of the decisions they make. Working people deserve the opportunity to put their concerns over manufacturing direct to the governor and his committee".