Unite union leader Len McCluskey vowed on Wednesday that his union would say “no way to regional pay.”
He told the Wales TUC conference in Llandudno that regional pay differentials were “wrong for workers, wrong for the workplace and wrong for Wales.”
He accused the Con-Dem coalition government of carrying out an “ideological offensive” because of its “deep-seated dislike of the public sector.”
Mr McCluskey asked how it could be right for a nurse in Newport to be paid less than a nurse in Northampton when they are doing exactly the same job.
“Perhaps saving lives in Wales is regarded as less important than doing so in the leafy suburbs of England,” he suggested sarcastically.
The Unite leader stressed that public-sector pay supports local economies, saying: “Reducing public-sector pay won’t help the economy. It would rip the heart out of local communities and stop blood flowing into their veins.”
Mr McCluskey explained that the government assumption of the need for regional pay flew in the face of private-sector experience since “most multi-site private companies have national pay structures.”
He paid tribute to the Welsh Labour government’s “resolute opposition to regional pay,” which put it “on the side of the workers.”
And Mr McCluskey asked “my friend Ed Miliband to take note. Regional pay is morally wrong, socially divisive and fundamentally flawed.”
Civil Service union PCS delegate Dominic McFadden noted that the share of national wealth going to workers’ pay had declined from 65 per cent in the 1970s to 53 per cent today.
He said that the top 1 per cent had increased their wealth during the current crisis “while the rest of us have seen a reduction.
“We won’t let workers in Wales pay for a crisis created by banks in London,” Mr McFadden declared.