Issue date
28 Jun 2013

date: 27 June 2013

embargo: 00.01hrs Friday 28 June 2013

Speaking later today (Friday) in Berlin to the 12th annual British-German Trade Union Forum, TUC General Secretary Frances O'Grady will call for a People's Plan for Europe's economy and labour market.

Frances will say this plan - based on the post-war Marshall Plan which rebuilt war-torn Europe - would rebalance Europe's economy towards long-term, sustainable investment.

The People's Plan would involve an injection of 1-2 per cent of European GDP in the form of infrastructure investment, skills training and research and development, minimum wages and higher pay generally. It would also introduce workers onto company boards and regulate zero hours contracts, unpaid internships and domestic workers' rights.

Frances O'Grady will say: 'Austerity has failed. The IMF has admitted it got it wrong over how badly the spending cuts would affect the rest of the European economy and wrong again over how to handle Greece's dire economic problems. Even the European Commission has now taken its foot off the austerity pedal.

'But the UK government seems to be at odds with what's going on across Europe. Earlier this week George Osborne announced another £11.5bn of cuts despite an economy that is struggling to get off its knees.

'And although the Treasury has now announced a significant programme of investment in the UK's infrastructure, this isn't new money and the economy is going to have to wait until after the 2015 election for its long-awaited boost, when what it really needs is a shot in the arm now.

'But while austerity may be failing economically on a grand scale across Europe, we must stop it winning politically. Understandably people are worried - and some of them are very scared - about losing their jobs, how they will make ends meet and the kind of future their children will have.

'Unions need to give ordinary people across Europe hope. We need to set out an alternative that addresses their concerns, meets their needs and solves their problems.

'A Marshall Plan for Europe would inject demand back into the European economy. It would renew our infrastructure, create sustainable jobs, and raise productivity through skills training and research and development. It could tackle the burden of debt that bailing out the banks stoked up.

'But our Marshall Plan must be a People's Plan - one that is based on equality and solidarity. We need to stimulate long-term investment to create a new, sustainable, social Europe.

'We need to re-balance our economies and labour markets and address the short-term problem of stagnant demand, redress decades of growing inequality, and tackle the long-term decline in productivity and competitiveness.

'Europe's workers also need a pay rise and workers on company boards would inject a sense of reality into the continent's boardrooms. We also need stronger regulation of the labour market to protect people from exploitative zero hours contracts and unpaid internships.

'That's the way to ensure that when growth returns it is sustainable, equitable, and generates decent, well-paid jobs. Europe needs a new economy that works in the people's interest, not simply in those of their bosses'.'


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