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The shadow chancellor has been booed and heckled by union delegates at the TUC conference over public sector pay restraint.
Ed Balls was questioned by a Unison delegate as to why he was supporting the Coalition's policy, which had led to a wage freeze for millions of public sector workers.
Mr Balls replied: "When you are losing hundreds of thousands of jobs, you cannot say the first priority is more pay for public sector workers."
Long-term damage will be done to the UK economy unless the Government changes course on economic policy, the shadow Chancellor will warn today.
The coalition's economic plan has failed, leaving businesses and families "crying out" for an alternative, Ed Balls will tell the TUC Congress in Brighton.
"Over 33,000 companies already gone bust since the general election. Investment plans cancelled, or diverted overseas. New ideas and new ventures being promoted in other countries.
"Our economy weaker and capacity lost and, above all, long-term youth unemployment becoming entrenched, damaging young lives and racking up costs which we will all have to pay.
"Not short-term pain for long-term gain, but short-term pain causing long-term damage as we pay a long-term price for this Government's economic failure.
"That is why we need action now, a change of course and a plan for jobs and growth: investing in infrastructure, building new homes and getting young people back to work."
Labour leader Ed Miliband told union leaders that their members and the public did not want strikes, amid the growing prospect of industrial action against the Government's austerity measures.
Mr Miliband risked sparking an angry reaction at the TUC general Council in Brighton: "It's what's happening in our economy that makes so many people angry with the Government.
"The question is how best to get them to change course? The public doesn't want to see strikes. Nor do your members. Nor do you. The way to sort out the problems the country faces is for the government to understand why working people are so unhappy."
Labour leader Ed Miliband has warned union leaders that their members and the public do not want strikes. It comes amid the growing prospect of industrial action against the Government's cost-cutting measures. At a dinner with the TUC general Council in Brighton Mr Miliband is expected to say:
The Prime Minister has said he will not change course in the face of threat of mass strikes over public sector pay, as calls for industrial action over the government's austerity programme dominated talks at a meeting of union leaders in Brighton.
David Cameron's spokesman said: "We have put in place some changes to pensions. We do not intend to reopen those talks. And we have put in place a freeze of public sector pay for two years. Again, we do not intend to reopen that decision".
The Department for Education has responded to industrial action threats over teachers' pay and working conditions. A spokesman said:
The prospect of a fresh wave of strikes by teachers and other public sector workers is increasing amid calls for direct action against government policies.
Dave Prentis, leader of Unison, said marches planned on October 20 against austerity cuts would be a "launch pad" for a sustained campaign.
"We will seek decent pay and we will negotiate but if the attacks continue, we will deliver co-ordinated action," he said.
Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers has urged for the Education Secretary to "listen to the concerns" of teachers, after teaching unions agreed on taking joint industrial action. Ms Blower said:
The education secretary has "recklessly disregarded" teachers' concerns, the general secretary of the NASUWT union has said in response to today's industrial action announcement. Chris Keates said:
The first day of the TUC Congress has been dominated be talk of industrial action against the Government's austerity measures.
Unison and GMB said the public-sector pensions dispute had brought them closer together, and the TUC Conference of unions is set to discuss "the consideration and practicalities of a general strike."
Latest ITV News reports
While the chances of a General Strike remain remote, a majority of unions have proven determined to serve an angry warning to Westminster.