Governor of the Bank of England can expect tough time amid union fury at City pay levels at time of spending cuts
Mervyn King, the governor of the Bank of England, will face a grilling from unions over bankers' bonuses and tax evasion when he addresses the TUC in Manchester today.
King faces a tough time amid union fury at the scale of bankers' pay while government spending is being cut back.
On the third anniversary of the run on Northern Rock and the start of the banking crisis in the UK, Unite said little had changed to improve financial regulation and prevent a future crisis.
Unite, the country's largest trade union, which represents members in the banking sector, reported today that around 100,000 jobs in finance had been lost over the last three years and warned there were fears of further "significant" cuts ahead.
Despite the "astronomical" staff cuts, the financial sector was reporting a return to profitability, it was claimed.
The decision to invite King to the TUC as the government prepares to make spending cuts to tackle a deficit that unions say was caused by the banks has prompted one leftwing union general secretary to vow to boycott the governor's address today.
Bob Crow, the general secretary of the Rail Maritime and Transport union, likened King's invitation to congress to Christians asking the "devil" to address them.
"This is our congress and I don't think he should have been invited," said Crow. "He is on the side of the bosses; he is not welcome here. You would never see the Conservatives inviting a union general secretary to their conference. I haven't heard him offer much support to school dinner ladies, nurses or other public-sector workers in the campaign against spending cuts."
Mark Serwotka, the general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union, which represents civil servants, said he intended to quiz King on the conference floor on the amount of uncollected taxes, which his union claims amounts to £120bn.
Sertwotka said of King: "I would not have invited him, but now that he is coming we intend to make sure he answers questions from representatives of ordinary working people, including the amount of taxes not being collected."
In an interview published in the TUC conference guide, King, who earns over £300,000, said he saw one of his roles as protecting the public from the banks.
King said he sympathised with public anger about the financial crisis, adding: "The origins of previous recessions could be traced to the need to combat inflation. This involved high interest rates, which inevitably affected businesses and jobs. But we have had the restructuring of industry, labour markets are more flexible and inflation is not the problem it was. People have a right to be puzzled."
He went on: "The unions have made concessions during previous recessions, so why should they suffer now? The role of the Bank of England changed with independence. It was an apologist for the City. I now see it serving the nation as a whole."
King is billed to speak just after TUC delegates debate a motion on restoring "ethical banking".
Other motions scheduled for this morning include calls for the TUC to set up a "high pay commission" to investigate pay across the economy. The move is in response to the government's decision to ask Will Hutton of the Work Foundation and the Observer to investigate high pay in the public sector.
The motion, tabled by the Communication Workers' Union, calls for a shadow commission looking at the difference between the highest and lowest pay within the top FTSE 100 companies.
This afternoon, pension concerns across the private and public sector will be on the agenda.
This comes on the day that a study suggests public-sector workers are paid more on average than their private-sector counterparts if pension contributions are taken into account.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) study focused on total reward: earnings received now plus earnings that will be paid as a pension on retirement.
The article for the ONS September Economic & Labour Market Review said median gross pay for all full-time workers in the public sector was £539 a week, compared with £465 for those in the private sector.
But the ONS report said that because there was an imbalance between pension provision in the public and private sectors – with more than half of all full-time employees in the private sector not having a pension compared with only one tenth in the public sector – it was difficult to compare total reward between the two.
Sarah Levy of the ONS, one of the authors of the article, said: "For some time, people have been talking about differences in pay and pensions between the private and public sectors. This article provides hard evidence from a major UK survey."
Copyright Speakers Corner 2017