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Eric Pickles says the old antagonisms between Conservatives and the trade unions are long gone

Eric Pickles With the TUC meeting in Liverpool this coming week, there is much coverage in the weekend papers about the increasingly fractious relationship between the Labour Party and the unions, on whom it increasingly relying for so much of its funding.

Yesterday it emerged that David Cameron has already started a dialogue with the unions, enjoying what he termed "sensible" discussions with Brendan Barber, the General Secretary of the TUC, covering, among other things, the future of public sector pensions.

Today Conservative Party chairman Eric Pickles has given his take on trade unions today in the North East's Sunday newspaper, the Sunday Sun:

“They are absolutely massively important. They might not have the enormous strength they had at one time, but in terms of the ability to further workers’ rights and to work with management to further good practice are considerable.

“And certainly we have been having lots of meetings with top trade union officials over the last few months. I think we recognise that we will be looking for goodwill and mutual co-operation. I think the old antagonisms have long gone.”

Update: Here is what Brendan Barber told BBC1's The Politics Show today about his meeting with David Cameron:

"I've talked to David Cameron a couple of times, we've have fairly businesslike conversations, and I think that's important and it's right that there should be that, that dialogue, I want all the… major parties to understand trade union views and concerns. As to if, if there was a change of government, then I'd expect a new government to want to work sensibly with the trade union movement, that's certainly what I want to see."

Jonathan Isaby

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