Pro-euro union is 'puppet of the multinationals'

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The Chancellor will walk into a bitter new battle over the euro when he addresses the Trades Union Congress today.

The Chancellor will walk into a bitter new battle over the euro when he addresses the Trades Union Congress today.

Attempts to suppress deep divisions over the single currency collapsed as the Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union (AEEU) yesterday named five major manufacturing companies which have declared themselves in favour of the euro for the first time. The businesses include household names such as the Dutch-owned Philips Electronics and the Japanese Sony Manufacturing.

Bill Morris, leader of the Transport and General Workers' Union, accused the AEEU of being a puppet of "dubious multinationals". Mr Morris, who had signed an agreement to set aside differences over the euro, said: "Now we know who is the driving force behind the pro-European stance. Dubious multinationals are pulling the strings. My union is not the puppet of any multinational and we are not prepared to sacrifice our members' jobs on the altar of profits."

However, Sir Ken Jackson, the general secretary of the AEEU and another signatory to the pact, said the country would face "disaster" unless the Government became more positive about the benefits of joining the single currency.

While a joint motion accepts that five economic tests will have to be passed and that the public will have to decide on the euro in a referendum, there remain deep differences. Mr Morris's line is understood to echo the Chancellor's caution, while Sir Ken is known to enjoy the backing of the Prime Minister.

The pro-euro companies disclosed by the AEEU also include Perkins Engines, owned by the United States group Caterpillar, the German company Robert Bosch and the British group Delta Engineering. Sir Ken said they were among the biggest employers in Britain and he believed, like the AEEU, that Britain should sign up to the new currency.

"They've never said so before but clearly feel very strongly," Sir Ken said. "We can't ignore the fact that we risk investment if we don't enter. Gambling with thousands of jobs is simply not an option."

Sir Ken invited the companies to sign a statement saying it was in Britain's economic and industrial interests to join the single currency, providing the economic conditions are right.

Nearly 800 delegates at the TUC conference in Glasgow will debate the euro issue ahead of the Chancellor's speech.

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