Union leaders reject advice from Hunt

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Indy Politics
UNION leaders yesterday clashed publicly with David Hunt after the Secretary of State for Employment delivered what he thought was a broadly supportive message and constructive advice.

Mr Hunt welcomed the relaunch of the new moderate TUC, but Gavin Laird, general secretary of the Amalgamated Engineering Union, said his words did not match his deeds.

Responding to a speech by Mr Hunt at the Industrial Society, Mr Laird, a right-winger in the labour movement, said: 'Your government is about the destruction of the British trade union movement. You're going to fail, but you're going to destroy people like me. The kind of person who will take over from me will be the kind you deserve.'

Mr Laird and John Edmonds, leader of the GMB general union, expressed their anger over the contrast between the seemingly emollient words of the Secretary of State, regarded as on the left of Tory party, and the toughness of recent legislation.

In his speech Mr Hunt said unions should 'purge themselves of their class war delusions' and become efficient businesses providing services and expertise to members.

Unions should try to convince employers that they could make a difference to profitability and competitiveness. They could form a partnership with government.

John Monks, TUC general secretary, who has been pressing for improved links with the Government, criticised Mr Hunt for failing to recognise the reality of working life in Britain.

'I am disappointed he does not acknowledge the major contribution which unions are making to the success of British companies.'