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Bank chief faces union questions

The governor of the Bank of England will face questions from trade union activists on unemployment and how the economic recovery is affecting workers when he addresses the TUC Congress today.

Mark Carney will become only the third governor to speak to the annual gathering of unions when he delivers a speech in Liverpool.

He has agreed to take questions from delegates after his address and is set to be asked about union warnings that pay is failing to keep pace with inflation.

Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, said he wanted to hear that the governor will “hold his nerve” by keeping interest rates low so that “real jobs” can be created, rather than those involving controversial zero-hours contracts.

The theme of the conference is Britain Needs A Pay Rise, with unions complaining that workers’ pay has fallen in real terms since the coalition came to power, especially in the public sector.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said there was a cost of living “crisis” in the wake of the economic crash, which unions blame on bankers.

She said: “Economic growth is back, but there’s no sign of it in most workers’ pay packets.

“Now the economy is recovering, any reasonable person might think this is the time to help repair household budgets and share the proceeds of growth more fairly.

“But the jobs that are being created are too often low paid and insecure.”

Delegates will today debate issues including public services, rail privatisation and opposition to the privatisation of probation services.

Paul Kenny, GMB general secretary said: “We want Mark Carney to say that he will hold interest rates low until pay makes up some of the ground lost in the six years from the start of the downturn.

“The bank has to recognise that there is some way to go before GDP per head recovers to pre- recession levels. Much of the growth since is due to demographic factors. The increase in population means GDP per head is still 5.7% below 2007 levels. This is the root cause of average earnings being down 13.8% in real terms since then.

“Interest rates cannot rise while the recovery is patchy. There are large swathes of the country and a great number of workers that have seen little or no benefit from this recovery.”

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