LIBERAL Democrats activists are today being urged to help “kill off” Chancellor George Osborne’s controversial plans to introduce regional pay for public sector workers.
The call from North East union and political leaders comes ahead of a crunch vote on whether the Lib Dems should oppose regional pay at their autumn conference in Brighton today.
The motion calls for the Government to rule out any further expansion in regional or local pay – something that comes amid warnings the Lib Dems and Tories could suffer electorally in the North of England if regional pay is introduced.
Critics say the move would be unfair and damage fragile economies, but supporters claim high public sector pay is “squeezing out” private sector employment.
Northern TUC policy and campaigns officer Neil Foster, who has been jointly leading the TUC’s Pay Fair campaign against regional pay, said: “Studies show that regional and local pay could cost the North East economy up to £761m each and every year.
“It would be a serious mistake if the coalition decided to ignore all the evidence and choose to unleash a spiral of decline by raiding the pay packets of nurses, teachers and dinner ladies in low pay regions each year.”
He added: “I am delighted that this cross-party campaign has seen politicians from all political parties in our region put the North East first in opposing these half-baked and destructive plans.
“Liberal Democrats have played a key part within the broad alliance against these destructive plans and we hope that their motion against regional pay at their party conference is resoundingly supported.
“They have an opportunity to help kill off this policy for good.”
Senior North East Lib Dem peer John Shipley, an adviser to the Government, said: “I will be firmly supporting the motion.
“Regional pay just means North East workers get less and that is a major disadvantage to our economy.”
The former leader of Newcastle City Council added: “I expect the motion to be carried, but I think it will kill off the proposals.”