Union chief lists price of support

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The Independent Online
Unions paid the bills which put Tony Blair into Downing Street and now it was pay-back time, according to the leader of the Labour Party's biggest affiliate.

John Edmonds, general secretary of the GMB general union, which poured pounds 2.5m in the Labour war-chest over the past year, set out a list of demands to end the "exploitation" of working people.

It was the first time since the election campaign began that a senior union leader has been so outspoken about the movement's role in funding the campaign and its keenness to see something in return.

Speaking at the union's annual conference in Brighton, Mr Edmonds said that Compulsory Competitive Tendering in local authorities must be abolished and he called for an end to the Jobseeker's Allowance.

Zero hours contracts - where employees are on call, but only paid when they work - should also go and the national minimum wage should be set at pounds 4.

There should be employment rights "for all" - full-timers and part-timers, men and women. Workers should enjoy full protection against dismissal from unfair dismissal from the first day of employment and not after two years, as is the current policy. It is thought that the Government favours shortening the qualifying period to a year.

Mr Edmonds conceded that unions had been "too big for their boots" in the past and would not make that mistake again.

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