GMB members yesterday went to Germany to demonstrate outside a gathering of the European Venture Capitalists Association (EVCA), at the same time as Prime Minister Blair praised the asset-strippers for performing ‘an important function in our economy’.
GMB union official Dave Kelsall told News Line: ‘We’ve come to Frankfurt today to bring workers from a number of venture capital organisations, including NCP, the AA and Bird’s Eye-Walls.
‘We brought demonstrators from these companies here to Frankfurt, in order to call upon the venture capitalists to cease their tirade across the industries here in the UK and across Europe, in terms of asset-stripping, job losses and exploitation of the workforce.
‘And we’re here to put a spotlight on the faceless side of the private equity elite, who operate quite often in secret and behind the scenes, giving untold misery to workers and the public alike in their strive to maximise their profits.’
Kelsall added: ‘The GMB’s demonstration, which was joined by trade unionists from across Europe, took conference delegates by surprise.
‘This is the first time in the EVCA’s history that they have had the spotlight turned on them.
‘Fifty-seven MPs have signed an early day motion, in order to ask Mr Brown what his opinion is of the private equity elite in the UK.
‘So it is interesting to hear Mr Blair’s comments today. It’s shocking.
‘We’d invite him to meet with the 3,500 workers at the AA who’ve been sacked as the result of the private venture capitalists’ greed.
‘I’d invite Mr Blair to meet the NCP workers who’ve had to take five days of strike action, in order to force their company – owned by 3i – to recognise their trade union, the GMB.
‘And finally, I’d invite Mr Blair to meet the Bird’s Eye-Walls workers in Hull, who are being sacked less than six months after Permira acquired the company, despite the assurances that were given to Alan Johnson MP that the company was in it for the long term.
‘The GMB is asking its representatives on the NEC of the Labour Party to look further into donations (to Labour) by a number of the private equity elite here in the UK.
‘And obviously the GMB will be pressing for openness and transparency in all the financial affairs of the Labour Party.’
Kelsall continued: ‘The EVCA have said quite openly that should governments start to legislate or regulate their affairs that they will take flight from the EU.
‘The GMB’s response is: “Slam the door shut as you leave and good riddance’’.’
In London, Prime Minister Blair was pressed about his attitude to the activities of venture capitalists at his monthly press conference.
Blair said: ‘Britain is one of the number one places in the world for private equity and I think the private equity market is a market that brings a lot of benefits to our economy.
‘It’s important that everyone behaves responsibly, but you’ve just got to be very careful of these issues, otherwise you end up in circumstances where concerns about maybe a minority of specific issues in specific circumstances end up tarring a whole sector.
‘I don’t think that would be fair at all, and some of those who are private equity people or venture capitalists, they’ve performed an important function in our economy.’