Trade union leaders yesterday urged Gordon Brown not to impose deep cuts in public spending despite being warned by the Prime Minister that "tough choices" would have to be made.
Mr Brown met 15 union bosses at Chequers ahead of the TUC conference in Liverpool, starting on Monday, amid growing union concern that big spending cuts will be announced by the Chancellor, Alistair Darling, in his Pre-Budget Report in November.
Mr Brown is refining his language on spending as the Government seeks to reassure the markets that the hole in the public finances will be filled once the recession is over. But unions fear a squeeze would mean huge job cuts – and threaten the index-linked pensions they say compensate public sector workers for their lower pay levels.
A Number 10 spokesman said: "They agreed that pulling the plug on the economy at a time of recession would put the recovery at risk. It was also agreed that jobs will be top of the agenda in the coming months. While the Prime Minister made it clear that there will be tough choices on public spending, he reiterated his strong commitment to the role of public services and manufacturing in Britain's future growth."