LETTER : Free market in labour divides society without creating the job s we need

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your leader (2 April) rightly says tricky issues like higher education funding are on the back burner but wrongly says regulated employment on the German model won't work in the UK.

There is a connection. Our most successful companies invest heavily in training. They also negotiate with their unions. It is precisely the sweatshop anti-union companies which won't pay for their own training.

You argue that our open, decentralised economy could not cope with talking to unions. On the contrary, our most successful companies are those (like ICI and BT) which are themselves open and decentralised but also plan ahead with their unions. They know that any training means talking and planning.

Unless, as a nation, we face up to the proper funding of HE, we will never deliver a real system of lifetime learning. Germany knows this well. After all, it was our TUC which taught them the economic value of collective bargaining after the war. Our own politicians should remember that lesson.

Tom Wilson

Assistant General Secretary

Association of University


London W11