Letter: Union defends Labour links

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The Independent Online
Sir: As a former director general of Nedo, now killed off by the CBI and the Treasury, Geoffrey Chandler (Letters, 18 July) knows better than most how Britain's industrial strength has been slowly destroyed by malign neglect.

I am surprised, therefore, by his unsupported assertions that trade unions are damaged by their Labour links and that we are reluctant to use shareholdings to raise issues at company annual general meetings. Back in the 1970s, we pioneered such an approach, with great success.

As for our support for Labour, it is highly relevant to our members. Take training, for example. Contrary to Sir Geoffrey's belief, we have made it a negotiating priority. MSF's Training Initiative - part of our long-standing campaign for British manufacturing - is aimed directly at raising the level of awareness among both employees and employers about the importance of training to industrial success. But it takes two to tango, and the response of British managers - with a few honourable exceptions - has been dismal. Good practice has to be underpinned by legislation requiring employers to train, a fact the present Government refuses to acknowledge.

That's just one reason why we will go on supporting the Labour Party under John Smith's leadership. Manufacturing needs a change of government at Westminster before it is too late, and we make no apology for pursuing both a political and an industrial route towards that goal.

Yours faithfully,


General Secretary Elect

Manufacturing, Science and

Finance Union

London, SW18

24 July