TUC general secretary Brendan Barber has announced his decision to retire after nearly a decade in charge of the heavyweight workers’-rights group. “I have decided that this is the right time to make a change in my life,” he said. “I have been enormously privileged to work at the TUC since 1975, and the end of the year will mark the 10-year point since my election as general secretary.
“The TUC,” he added, “has always been a powerful voice for the millions of ordinary people who depend on trade unions to better their lives and there is so much of our work over the years in which I take great pride. But I have every confidence that under new leadership the TUC can go from strength to strength.” A successor will be elected in September.
Barber’s announcement comes in the week of some of his most outspoken remarks on Coalition government policies, highlighting in particular his views on inflation and tax – two themes he touched upon in his recent interview with Professional Manager. The comments suggest that he is unlikely to depart from his role without carrying his fight for fairness to the very end of his tenure.
“Inflation is not falling as fast as many hoped,” he said today in response to figures indicating a small rise in the Consumer Prices Index, following around five months of decreases. “With pay growth also weak, families are getting poorer every month. Wages have been falling since mid-2010 and the government’s own forecasters are predicting a three-year earnings drop.”
On Monday, Barber hit out at Treasury figures showing that around one in 10 people who earn more than £10m per year are paying less than the basic, 20% rate of income tax.
“These are truly shocking figures,” he said. “For too many of Britain’s super-rich, tax is something for the little people. Unfortunately, the government is making the mistake of trying to deal with tax reform in a piecemeal way – one day rewarding the very wealthy with a cut in their tax rate, the next trying to unpick their allowances that benefit charitable institutions.
“Instead what we need is a proper and comprehensive review of our tax system – one that sets out to make tax fair for everyone and means the super-rich start to pay effective tax rates much higher than the seemingly voluntary rates they pay at the moment.”
Not the words of a retiring man, we think…