TUC leader warns of a rise in militancy

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Labour Editor

John Monks, TUC general secretary, yesterday urged workers to take industrial action against bad employers.

In a departure from his New Labour image, the normally moderate Mr Monks said that he welcomed industrial militancy where companies treated their employees badly. On the eve of the TUC's annual congress in Brighton, Mr Monks said: "I have always stood for good relations with good employers, but where there are bad employers count me among the militants. It's important that unions are powerful enough to de something about workers being treated badly."

In an interview to be published today in Locomotive Journal, the magazine for the train-drivers' union Aslef, the leader of the TUC predicts mounting militancy and makes clear his frustration with selfish, authoritrian management: "Bosses have been lining their pockets with scant regard to the wider interest and some of them need to be challenged. Militancy reminds us not to be too complacent. Trade unions will challenge injustice and the policy of greed that has suffused British board rooms."

Mr Monks' remarks came as the TUC published a survey which indicates a growing feeling of insecurity at work. The poll showed that one in three workers are afraid to take time off because it might count against them.

Some 77 per cent of respondents said that their job was less secure now than it was two years ago - and 56 per cent thought that it would be less safe in two years' time.

Two in five employees say they often feel pressured into working late or through their lunch hour. One in four would not risk complaining if asked to do unpaid overtime and 44 per cent are afraid to criticise their managers.

Mr Monks said: "Growing insecurity at work is no longer just about fear of losing a job. It's about the fear of crossing the boss." The mounting insecurity resulted directly from the Government's drive to remove basic protections for people at work. "Rights we all take for granted as citizens or consumers simply vanish when we're at work."

Mr Monks' comments came as Tony Blair, the Labour leader, suffered a setback in his plans to move on from the row with trade unions over fixing a national minimum wage

Blow for Blair, page 5