Bank chief faces grilling at TUC congress

Bank chief faces grilling at TUC congress

Bank of England Governor Mervyn King will face questions on bankers’ bonuses and tax evasion as well as a boycott by a leading trade unionist when he addresses the TUC Congress tomorrow.

The 62-year-old will become only the second Governor to address the TUC when he speaks to delegates in Manchester in the wake of union attacks at the scale of bankers’ pay while Government spending is being cut back.

Bob Crow, general secretary of the Rail Maritime and Transport union, will boycott the speech, saying it was like Christians asking the “devil” to address them.

“This is our congress and I don’t think he should have been invited. He is on the side of the bosses – he is not welcome here. You would never see the Conservatives inviting a union general secretary to their conference.

“I haven’t heard him offer much support to school dinner ladies, nurses or other public sector workers in the campaign against spending cuts.”

In an interview published in the Congress Guide, Mr King, who earns over £300,000 (€358,000), said he saw one of his roles as protecting the public from the banks.

He said he sympathised with public anger about the financial crisis, adding: “The origins of previous recessions could be traced to the need to combat inflation.

“This involved high interest rates, which inevitably affected businesses and jobs. But we have had the restructuring of industry, labour markets are more flexible and inflation is not the problem it was. People have a right to be puzzled.”

He added: “The unions have made concessions during previous recessions, so why should they suffer now? The role of the Bank of England changed with independence. It was an apologist for the City.

“I now see it serving the nation as a whole.”

During a question and answer session after his speech, Mr King will be quizzed on the amount of uncollected taxes, which the Public and Commercial Services union claims is over £120bn (€143bn).

General secretary Mark Serwotka said: “I would not have invited him, but now that he is coming we intend to make sure he answers questions from representatives of ordinary working people, including the amount of taxes not being collected.”

Unite reported today that around 100,000 finance jobs have been lost since the start of the banking crisis three years ago and there were fears of further “significant” cuts ahead.

On the third anniversary of the run on Northern Rock and the start of the banking crisis in the UK, Unite said little had changed to improve the regulatory regime and prevent a future crisis.

Despite the “astronomical” staff cuts, the financial sector was reporting a return to profitability, it was claimed.

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