Blair's union tries to block early euro bid

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The Independent Online
TONY BLAIR'S union is trying to block demands being made for Britain's early entry into the European single currency at next month's TUC conference.

Bill Morris, general secretary of Britain's biggest union, the TGWU, to which Mr Blair belongs, is lining up with Rodney Bickerstaffe, leader of Unison, the health workers' union, opposing moves by the AEEU and the GMB to support Britain's entry to the single currency .

Mr Morris, also a member of a Bank of England advisory body, is said to have had his opposition to early entry to the euro reinforced by Eddie George, the governor of the Bank, and the Chancellor, Gordon Brown.

"We are concerned going in before there is convergence will destroy jobs," said a union source. "Our members do not have a great deal of enthusiasm for the euro.

"We are not anti-euro but we are against the benefits of going in yesterday which some unions want us to do." John Monks, the general secretary of the TUC, who is seen as pro-euro, has been working to avoid an embarrassing confrontation over the euro, which could dent the Government's policy of entry when the conditions are right.

The TUC has commissioned a report on entry to the euro, which is expected to highlight the risks of joining prematurely. The TUC leadership is likely to ensure that a face-saving motion is passed, broadly in line with Mr Blair's policy.

But the unions who support early entry fear it will be seen as a clear defeat for their approach and set back their hopes of entry early in the next Parliament.

Campaigners for Britain's entry to the euro, led by John Edmonds, of the GMB union, said it would be a close vote. "It's going to be too close to call," said one union source.