A Tory-led Government would push for the region’s public sector staff to be paid a different rate, the deputy leader of the Labour Party claims.
In Gateshead to speak at the Northern TUC conference yesterday, Harriet Harman told the Sunday Sun she is “certain” regional pay is on David Cameron’s agenda.
Prime Minister David Cameron vehemently denied the cabinet has a secret plan for regional pay when Sir Alan Beith, the former Lib Dem MP for Berwick, said last month his party had been the only thing standing between George Osborne and the scheme during the last Parliament.
But Ms Harman also claims the Tories privately plan a regional pay programme and dismisses the Government’s “Northern Powerhouse” as a “gimmick”.
“We have always opposed a breakdown of national pay structures and the Tories wanted to undermine trade union representation, as well,” said Ms Harman.
“Certainly, the Lib Dems didn’t stop them doing a lot of other things, such that they have been successful in the re-organisation of the NHS, but the Tories would otherwise have pressed on with a lot more privatisation and regional pay.
“I’m certain that regional pay will be on the Tories’ agenda.”
Ms Harman also visited the marginal Stockon South constituency, where Labour’s Louise Baldock is taking on Tory James Wharton at next month’s general election, as part of Labour’s Woman to Woman campaign to win the female vote.
“I really feel that the North East, if we have another period of Tory-led government, will be hit hard if we drift out of the European Union,” she said.
“The North is just not on the Tory agenda. If you think of all the issues that need to be tackled, like low pay, like improving services, like investment in infrastructure, the Tories have already shown that the region is not on their agenda.
“I really fear for the people of the North if the Tories get in again. It is really important that we win Stockton and Redcar.”
She added that George Osborne’s much-trumpeted plans to create a “Northern Powerhouse” that will rival London’s economic dominance amounted to little with a backdrop of ongoing austerity.
“I think this Northern Powerhouse is a gimmick, because they are giving with one hand and taking away more with another. I don’t think we are in any way convinced by the idea that there is anything like a Northern Powerhouse being created by the Tories.” In a letter to Berwick Conservative Anne-Marie Trevelyan, the Prime Minister denied the Tories were planning to introduce regional pay.
It reads: “We are not going to introduce regional pay in the public sector.
“Our hard-working nurses and teachers deserve better than to be subject to scaremongering suggestions to the contrary.”