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BUDGET REACTION: CHANCELLOR SEEKS TO ASSURE UNIONS OVER NATIONAL PAY BARGAINING

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Local government workers will hold an all-out strike if the employers ...
Local government workers will hold an all-out strike if the employers

threaten to end national pay bargaining, BBC Radio Four's Today programme

was told this morning.

Unions have interpreted part of the chancellor's Budget statement as a

signal for a move to regional pay bargaining.

But chancellor Gordon Brown told the Today programme national pay bargaining

would continue.

In his speech yesterday, Mr Brown said: 'The British economy is now better

placed to recognise local and regional conditions in pay, such as the extra

costs for retention and recruitment that arise in London and the south east.

'So in future we plan regional price indices, showing differences in

regional inflation rates, remits for pay review bodies and public sector

workers will include a stronger regional and local dimension'.

Scottish National Party MP Alex Salmon told Today this was the 'Budget

bombshell', meaning lower pay for public sector workers in Scotland and the

north of England.

Jack Dromey of the T&GWU called on the chancellor to rule out ending

national bargaining. The danger is that local government employers will take

advantage of the chancellor's stance and end national pay rates. 'Local

government employers want to pay less to low paid workers in Cornwall,

Cowdenbeath, Cumbria and Carrickfergus', Mr Dromey said.

'If the local government employers threaten national pay bargaining, then

the second national strike within 12 months is inevitable', he said.

But later in the programme the chancellor said: 'National pay bargaining is

bound to continue. What I said yesterday is that the pay remits will have to

take into account regional factors'.

The government's commitment to national pay was demonstrated by the fact

that there is a national minimum wage and a national scheme of tax credits,

he said.

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