Letter: TUC's way to wealth

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The Independent Online
Sir: Hamish McRae (19 May) argues that Britain's future prosperity depends on 'producing things uniquely ours' in order to create the resources to improve the pay and conditions of people doing menial work. While I believe that with more effective training we could extend the range of things 'uniquely ours' well beyond those he envisages, and that we can compete in many areas of manufacturing and services, the central question he does not answer is how we can ensure that the resources are distributed fairly between those in such potentially highly profitable areas and those undertaking the other, menial tasks.

The 'trickle down' theory so popular in government circles in the Eighties has been shown not to work, as the gap between rich and poor has widened and a large underclass has been created. That is why I believe we need a solid base of social rights as envisaged in the Europe social charter and Social Chapter together with a charter for employment rights, as advocated by the TUC.

Without such a framework, the danger is that society will become more and more polarised between those having standards of living as good as any in the world and others who are expected to accept the standards of low-cost countries. We will move forward faster if we recognise that decent working conditions are the best way to create wealth.

Yours sincerely,


General Secretary

Trades Union Congress

London, WC1

19 May