New leader has 'no truck' with 'overblown' union threats

1st October 2010 at 01:00

Ed Miliband, the new leader of the Labour Party, said this week that he will not stand for "waves of irresponsible strike action" from trade unions.

Giving his first speech as leader at the party's annual conference in Manchester, Mr Miliband added that the Labour party and unions must avoid "adding to the book of historic union failures".

His comments come just weeks after teaching unions said at the Trades Union Congress Conference that they are considering joint national strike action for the first time since the 1980s.

Mr Miliband said: "We need to win the public to our cause and what we must avoid at all costs is alienating them and adding to the book of historic union failures.

"That is why I have no truck, and you should have no truck, with overblown rhetoric about waves of irresponsible strikes." He added: "The public won't support them. I won't support them. And you shouldn't support them either."

Speaking after the speech, deputy general secretary of the NUT Kevin Courtney said: "He showed that he is in favour of trade unionism, and we are in favour of responsible trade unionism.

"The Government believes its approach to reducing the deficit should be through cuts, we don't agree with that and it could mean strike action from us and other teaching unions. But we will be working very hard to make sure we have public support. I don't think it will be seen as irresponsible."

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said: "We are not a union that indulges in rhetoric. It was a good speech, he set out his plans for the future and showed a clear commitment to trade unions but balanced that with a need for responsibility. We have a responsibility and we have a history of showing that. We can represent our members' interests and be pragmatic, and we have shown that with the last Labour Government."


Mr Miliband's musical chairs

Ed Miliband is set for a drastic re-structuring of the shadow cabinet. Here are the key runners and riders:

Andy Burnham

One of the favourites to take over from Ed Balls. Mr Burnham has experience in running one of the biggest departments in Whitehall when he was health secretary and his comprehensive schooling is seen as an attractive antithesis to Michael Gove.

Yvette Cooper

Has been touted by certain papers to be her husband's successor. She will undoubtedly have an intimate knowledge of the ups and downs of the education beat and has bags of experience across a number of portfolios.

Vernon Coaker

Unclear whether he would put his name forward for consideration in the shadow cabinet election. Has experience thanks to his time as schools minister and his previous job as a teacher is a huge plus for teacher voters.

Ed Balls

Unless he is handed the shadow chancellorship by Ed Miliband he may question the sense in moving to another portfolio. His battles with his counterpart Michael Gove have given him an excellent platform while in opposition and during his leadership campaign.

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