Prime minister David Cameron and former TUC general secretary Brendan Barber have joined forces to pen a warning against leaving the EU.
The Conservative prime minister and the former trade union boss admitted they were rarely political allies, but said that in the case of the referendum “it is right that the rules of conventional politics be temporarily set aside”.
In an article in the Guardian, they wrote:
It’s clear there will be long-term damage for our country’s productivity, caused by the second-rate, more restrictive trade relationship we would have to try to negotiate if we left our home market of 500 million consumers.
Less open trading leads to lower productivity. It doesn’t matter whether you work in a car plant, a factory, a shop or an office: the likelihood is that you would take home less money at the end of every month than if we stayed in Europe.
But here are a few times that the two have been less than amicable allies:
1. Over the right to strike
In 2011, Barber warned Cameron that the TUC was debating over whether to take strike action against Government plans to toughen strike laws and planned increases to public sector pension contributions.
I think the public realise that the reason this strike is going ahead is because of the intransigence from the Government and their determination to simply force changes through.
Cameron condemned the 2011 strikes, telling public sector workers that walking out would be wrong:
To those considering strike action, when discussions are ongoing, I say to you these strikes are wrong, for you, for the people you serve and for the good of the country. It is the changes we propose that are right, right by the taxpayer but, above all, right by you.
The changes we propose are a good deal. They are fair for the low-paid, fair for the taxpayer.
2. His leaving speech
Barber used his final interview after a decade in the post of TUC general secretary to fight Tory cuts.
He warned that “the stakes have never been higher” due to a Government “onslaught”.
Barber also said that David Cameron and George Osborne needed to come under “real political pressure” to encourage change.
The Government's plans to cut spending and redraw the State are more radical and dangerous than anything since the 1930s.
He compared coalition cuts to spending to the poll tax and said their claims that they would "shield the vulnerable and protect front-line services" were falsehoods, as economic policies were "impossible to deliver in even the first round of budget reductions".
He also said:
Ministers should stamp down on tax avoidance, not least by reversing the cuts in revenue staff that lie behind many of the current PAYE problems.
4. Criticism of Barclays bonuses
In the Independent again, Barber wrote Barclays bonuses, following the recession, were profoundly unfair and aided by government inaction:
We may now be able to see that much of the pre-crash economic growth led by the finance sector was illusory, but it certainly fooled policymakers at the time who privileged banking above the rest of the economy. The huge bonuses paid year in, year out have unbalanced our social structures too, as a new class of super-rich float free from the normal obligations and mutual relationships that make up a cohesive society.
While writing at the time about the Labour government, he maintained this stance and criticism of Cameron's bank-friendly government.
5. NHS cuts
During Andrew Lansleys time as Health Secretary, in which he oversaw pro-market cuts to the Health service, Barber said:
The Conservatives told us before the election that there would be no cuts to the NHS, no top-down reorganisation and respect for the founding principles of the NHS.
Today's plans break each of those pledges. A giant top-down reorganisation that will cost billions to carry out, opens the door to widespread privatisation and comes on top of eye-watering efficiency savings all add up to a toxic cocktail of voter unfriendliness.
But now Mr Barber and Mr Cameron are teaming up. A match made in heaven...