BVCA moves to diffuse union row(2)

The UK’s industry body is set to meet with trade union representatives, as two Labour deputy leadership candidates support union opposition to private equity.

The British Venture Capital Association is to meet with trade union representatives in the coming weeks, as it attempts to diffuse a growing campaign by the unions to denigrate the industry.

BVCA chief executive Peter Linthwaite is set to meet with Paul Maloney, general secretary of the GMB, and Philip Jennings, general secretary of global trade union UNI – two of the industry’s most vocal recent critics.
The GMB is currently campaigning against planned job cuts at Birds Eye, a frozen food business owned by buyout firm Permira. It targeted the same firm last year over vehicle repair group the AA, though the situation was obscured by the fact that the GMB had been de-recognised as an official union by the AA’s employees.

As part of its campaign, the GMB has written to UK MPs suggesting they debate the industry’s merits, and urged the Treasury to end tax relief on loan interest payments.

Yesterday, two candidates for the Labour Party’s deputy leadership contest – education secretary Alan Johnson and backbencher Jon Cruddas –said they supported the union’s position. Under Labour’s constitution, the trade unions control a large block of votes in the deputy leadership election, making them an important ally for any aspiring candidate.

Jennings may also prove a tough nut for the BVCA to crack. In agreeing to the BVCA’s invitation to meet, he recently told the UK-based Guardian newspaper: “After some progress in forcing publicly listed companies to take corporate social responsibility seriously, the private equity route also takes us back to the dark ages and ignores public and worker stakeholders.”