EXCL Labour boss apologises after appearing to blame maternity costs for staff pay offer
Labour's most senior unelected official has apologised after appearing to suggest that the party's maternity conditions were partly to blame for a pay offer which has been rejected three times.
General secretary Jennie Formby told staff in an email earlier this week that the "extremely generous" pay for new mums and dads had cost the party £1 million in the past year.
That sparked an angry backlash from MPs and party workers, who accused Labour officials of trying to scapegoat those with small children.
In an email titled 'clarification' which was sent to staff on Friday morning, Ms Formby said: "Further to my earlier email we have had some feedback regarding the point made in respect of maternity/paternity leave.
"We are very proud of the terms and conditions that we provide to staff and making reference to the excellent parental leave conditions that we offer was included as an illustration of how much we value our staff and want them to have the best; it was not intended to indicate that this is in any way a burden.
"Please accept my apologies if the wording has created the wrong impression, which was absolutely not our intention."
The row comes amid an ongoing pay dispute, which has seen Labour staff voting against three separate wage offers by party management.
The most recent rejection came despite both Unite and the GMB urging their members to accept the "final" offer.
Talks between the unions and party bosses are continuing in a bid to break the impasse.
One backbencher told PoliticsHome: "We fought the last election on a manifesto to pay a decent public sector rise. To fail to get our own house in order speaks volumes.
"There is a pregnant pause whilst Labour tries to sort this mess out but the vast majority of MPs are on the side of hardworking staff."