TUC leader warns of 'rocky year' for Brown

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Union leaders warn Gordon Brown today that he faces a new year of discontent over his decision to squeeze public sector pay. In a new year message, Brendan Barber, the general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, says the Prime Minister faces a "rocky year ahead" with the unions over below-inflation pay offers that have fuelled a "simmering resentment" across the public sector.

"Public servants have already suffered a cut in their living standards this year. But the Government is planning a further three years of reduced living standards," said Mr Barber. "The arguments for doing this do not stack up and the risks are big. It ... will damage an industrial relations system that has minimised conflict in the public sector."

The police are balloting on the right to strike after being offered a pay rise of 1.9 per cent by the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith. Mr Brown said his refusal to allow their full pay award to be backdated to September was "in the public interest".