Old friends with different opinions

Letter from Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey to minister Joe Bossano:

Dear Joe,

I received your letter and it’s always good to hear from an old friend.

My mind goes back to the time we spent together at T&G summer school in Cirencester in the 1970s - two young shop stewards vowing to change the world.

The 1970s Joe I knew then would have read your recent letter explaining the difference between austerity and the “unsustainable level of Public Service pay” and said that it was a rose by any other name.

Your comparison of Public Sector pay and Private Sector pay intimates that somehow Public Sector workers should “allow” Private Sector workers to catch up by standing still on pay reviews. This is wrong and a clear definition of austerity which has failed miserably in the UK and the rest of Europe, leading, worryingly, to people turning to extreme right-wing/neo-fascist political parties in many countries including Spain.

Instead of seeming to blame Public Sector workers, most of whom are Unite members, you should seek ways of increasing wages in the Private Sector - increase the minimum wage to make it a Real Living Wage; influence private companies who receive government contracts to recognise Unite so that we can push wage levels upwards. These private companies can afford it, they make good profits.

Your views may well assist other political parties to see austerity as a respectable philosophy. I believe your Chief Minister’s view of investing is more helpful to sustaining a growing economy. This is the view that socialists across Europe and especially in the UK have been advocating.

Yours in friendship,

Len McCluskey

General Secretary