Labour shadow chancellor Ed Balls came under fire from trade unionists today after ducking calls for the party to promise to scrap anti-trade union laws.
After Mr Balls spoke to more than 500 delegates at the TUC Congress, where he was heckled, he was asked by transport union RMT why Labour had not repealed the draconian laws.
He said there was a case for taking a look at "the way the law is working" and then pointed to Labour's record on issues such as holidays and parental rights.
There was one call of "shame on you" in the Brighton Central Hall but RMT general secretary Bob Crow hit out afterwards.
"What working people want to know is when the Labour front bench is going to stand side by side with us on the picket lines and out on the streets," he said.
"He completely ignored RMT's direct question on repealing the anti-union laws and has lined himself up with big business and against the working class on the fundamental issue of workers' rights.
"His failure to support the renationalisation of the railways, despite the ongoing West Coast fiasco, is a vote-loser of massive proportions.
"This rotten government is there for the taking and, if the Labour opposition showed the millions of people in the front line of the cuts fightback that they are firmly on our side, this whole shoddy coalition stitch-up would soon be history."
Mr Balls claimed it would take billions of pounds to bring the railways back into public ownership - rail unions say otherwise - and that prevented it from being "first priority" if Labour won the 2015 election.
Earlier Mr Balls said he read the Morning Star, and agreed with an article by ATL deputy general secretary Martin Johnson, who wrote yesterday that we must resist ideologues.
He defended his support for a government pay freeze, saying that jobs must come before pay.
"I think that is the right choice at the moment."
Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: "If he really understood the massive impact of a three-year pay freeze on struggling families, he too would be calling for an end to the pay freeze."
In his speech Mr Balls said: "What we are really seeing is Tories itching to provoke a row about strikes so they can blame the stalling recovery on trade union members and working people."
And civil servants' union PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka was scathing: "By refusing to condemn the government's public-sector pay freeze Ed Balls wasted an ideal opportunity to show genuine support for the alternative to the cuts.
"It is a complete fallacy that there is a choice between either saving jobs or boosting pay.
"To get our economy back on its feet and ensure living standards are not driven into the ground, we need both."
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