Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

Miliband vow to unions on economy

Labour Party leader Ed Miliband addresses the Unite union conference in Brighton

Labour leader Ed Miliband has pledged to work with unions to help the party rebuild the economy in a fairer way if it wins power again.

And he told Unite's national conference that Labour was launching a campaign to highlight cases where workers were being exploited by bad bosses, including not being paid the minimum wage.

Delegates at the Brighton conference attacked Labour earlier this week for losing touch with its core supporters.

Mr Miliband was politely received, and won applause when he said the Government should be making it easier to hire workers, not fire them.

He promised that a future Labour government would make it a priority to help young people find work, saying that huge amounts of talent was being "wasted", especially among graduates.

Mr Miliband also pledged that a future Labour government would not issue major contracts unless they included a number of apprenticeships.

Mr Miliband admitted that the previous Labour government had not done enough to make sure the minimum wage was paid to all workers, or bring in the agency workers directive quicker.

The minimum wage often did not lift people out of poverty, so the next campaign should be for a living wage, he said.

Unions and Labour had to find new ways of working together to help rebuild the economy in a different way, said Mr Miliband, attacking the coalition for "tearing the foundations" out of the country, and for turning recovery into recession. "I promise it will be different under a Labour government. For too long we have had an economy that does not work for most people."

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey told the conference that, under Mr Miliband's leadership, Labour was convincing the public that the party offered real alternatives to the coalition's austerity measures. "I don't always agree with everything Ed Miliband says - probably never will - but we are full and constructive partners in developing that alternative."

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