The outgoing leader of Britain's union movement spoke yesterday of "dissatisfaction and frustration" among trade unionists at the Government's policies.
John Monks, the general secretary of the TUC, said there was "a hell of a lot of anguish" over the links between trade unions and the Labour Party.
Departing from his usual diplomatic approach, Mr Monks warned ministers that the activists Labour relied on to deliver the vote at election times were angered by indecision on the euro, weak employment protection laws, privatisation and the "obscene conspicuous consumption" of fat-cat company directors.
Mr Monks said he was always prepared to point out the achievements of the Government, citing as an example its success in cutting unemployment at a time when it was rising in France and Germany. That was a "hell of an achievement", he said.
Mr Monks, who is leaving his post after 10 years to become general secretary of the European TUC in Brussels, told GMTV: "I'm certainly reflecting this sense of dissatisfaction and frustration around the trade union world."
He said: "It's about a feeling that we're rather second class in terms of labour standards compared to other people in the European Union."