Unions back EU referendum calls

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Indy Politics

Unions are on a collision course with the Government over Europe, having insisted yesterday that they will press ahead with a call for a referendum on EU reform.

The GMB said it would not withdraw a motion calling on the TUC to back such a referendum despite intense pressure to back down. Sources said it was confident of securing a majority for the motion, which would put the unions at loggerheads with Gordon Brown, who has rejected all calls for a referendum. The RMT also vowed to push for a vote on its own motion calling for unions to campaign against the treaty.

TUC leaders failed for a third time to broker a compromise in order to head off the referendum debate scheduled for tomorrow.

Paul Kenny, GMB general secretary, pointed to Labour's commitment to a referendum. He said: "If you are a politician and you make a promise you should stick to it. To say you cannot have a vote because the people might say no is not a good enough argument. We in the GMB did not sign up to Europe at any price."

Bob Crow, general secretary of the RMT, accused Mr Brown of treating trade unionists "with contempt" by failing to address concerns about the treaty. He branded the treaty "an outright chance for the big bosses to privatise and smash our public services"

A YouGov poll of union members showed 69 per cent backing for a referendum on the treaty.