London 2012: Unite's Olympics strike threat condemned

 

David Cameron: "Labour needs to condemn this utterly"

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Suggestions from the leader of the UK's biggest union that workers could strike during the London Olympics have been condemned by political leaders.

Len McCluskey, of Unite, told the Guardian that civil disobedience could be timed to disrupt the 2012 Games.

A spokesman for Prime Minister David Cameron called the idea "unacceptable and unpatriotic". Labour has also criticised Mr McCluskey's comments.

However, union sources told the BBC there were no specific strike plans.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg told the BBC: "People will just be gobsmacked, appalled, at Mr McCluskey's remarks.

"At a time when we can showcase to the world that we are positively and optimistically putting on this fantastic event, he wants to bring people out on the streets."

The Liberal Democrat leader said to "mess up the Olympics to prove a point" would be bad for the country and called on Labour leader Ed Miliband to "rein in" Mr McCluskey, whose union is Labour's largest donor.

And Mr Cameron also told MPs that Labour "need to condemn this utterly and start turning back the money" from Unite.

Conservative co-chairman Baroness Warsi agreed, calling the comments "an appalling display of naked self-interest".

"It is disgraceful for a trade union boss to be calling for mass disruption when the eyes of the world will be on Britain," she told the BBC.

'Right to protest'

Mr McCluskey had told the Guardian: "If the Olympics provide us with an opportunity, then that's exactly one that we should be looking at.

"The attacks that are being launched on public sector workers at the moment are so deep and ideological that the idea the world should arrive in London and have these wonderful Olympic Games as though everything is nice and rosy in the garden is unthinkable.

London 2012 - One extraordinary year

London 2012 One extraordinary year graphic

"Our very way of life is being attacked. By then this crazy Health and Social Care Bill may have been passed, so we are looking at the privatisation of our National Health Service.

"The unions, and the general community, have got every right to be out protesting."

Mr McCluskey said the purpose of protest was "to bring your grievances to the attention of as many people as possible".

However, Mr Miliband said: "Any threat to the Olympics is totally unacceptable and wrong.

"This is a celebration for the whole country and must not be disrupted."

Earlier, his deputy Harriet Harman had told the BBC it was inconceivable that union members would want to disrupt the Games.

Brendan Barber, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, said: "Of course unions seek fair reward for the extra work and long hours that will be required during what will be the busiest ever time for public transport and other public services, and not all such negotiations have been concluded.

"But of course unions want a Games of which we can all be proud."

BBC political correspondent Norman Smith said Unite insiders had played down the prospect of strikes, with one saying there was "nothing specific planned".

"They take the view Mr McCluskey was letting off steam at his frustrations with government policy but they are acutely aware [strike action] would be deeply unpopular and probably counter-productive," our correspondent added.

 

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  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 1203.

    The majority of British people are these days lying awake at night dreaming of being touched by the magic hand of an olympics executive or of sneaking past the special forces guards of the 101st airborne olympic division so they can catch a glimpse of the hallowed 'olympic torch' made so famous by Adolf Hitler

    What spoilsports these unions are

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 1202.

    Bradfordbelle "this minority sporting event" Are you serious??? Bejing was watch by over 1 billion people - its the second biggest grossing event ever - Olympic Games (Summer) - Brand Value: $230 million
    With total revenues of $3.9 billion, the Beijing Games fell just shy of becoming the first sporting event to gross $4 billion. A minority? It INCLUDES every major sport!!

  • Comment number 1201.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 1200.

    Amazing that politicians can actually hear us when we threaten one of their pet causes. I think we should consider a fuel protest on the first day of the games as well, really get them awake. I asked the Treasury 3-4 weeks ago what the "economy" is and, while I did get an acknowledgement, I have yet to receive a repy. Perhaps they do not actually know?

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 1199.

    Of course this is the same government that states that the civil service should be proud of the olympics being held here, then put a freeze on any leave so they cannot participate in it. My ex works at heathrow and wanted to be a games maker, but had to cancel that when she was told they would not be allowed any special leave. Pay freezes are common now & ofc the pensions scandel. Strike I say!!

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 1198.

    Hopefully the strike won't happen but perhaps this may make the Govt stop dictating to the public and force them into stopping bankers playing around with our money and giving themselves wopping big bonuses for losing it all!!!

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 1197.

    This is most ridiculous and irresponsible statement I have read. At a time when emerging economies are doing well, this kind of ill-timed action is likely to cause severe damage to the UK's image as a place open for business. Protests should not result in millions of visitors deciding never to come back or invest in anything here!

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 1196.

    It's a good negotiating starting point isn't it? Timing strikes to disrupt the biggest waste of money since the Iraq war makes a lot of sense if you are looking for concessions.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 1195.

    I am in public service and I do have concerns over the government policies but I recognise the mess the country is in . McCluskey does not speak for me and I am ashamed to be in the union that he leads. Another Scargill looking for self glory. When will these idiots ever learn.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 1194.

    The government will be using the Olymics to detract from the problems in the country. Why shouldn't others, including trade unions, not use it for the purpose of highlighting national issues. It's better than rioting as the Greeks do!

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 1193.

    Nice to see not all Unite members are sheep

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 1192.

    What is selfish is having the God-awful Olympics. Peoples lives will be disrupted in numerous ways for the pomp and glory of the politicians who want this rubbish in the first place. Lets all hope that there will be a gold medal winner in the sport of "Yoga Poses".

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 1191.

    I am a member of Unite and I and a number of other members in my office certainly don't agree with action during the olympics. Not sure why Mccluskey thinks he can come out with this threat. He does not have the backing of the majority of members and it hasn't gone to vote so he should shut up making himself and the union look ridiculous.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 1190.

    @1153 nickburks if you are going to attack what I have said, at least have the intelligence to understand what I said. my argument was not to raise taxes of the higher earners, my argument was for them to pay what they ALREADY owe. higher earners striking a deal with the government so they don't have to pay their tax bill has cost us BILLIONS, if that was reclaimed, then the crisis would be over!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 1189.

    If any of the unions are reading these comments - you are a disgrace to the British nation, how is striking an answer it costs millions per day to strike.
    Please UK stop recognising all UNIONS they all do more harm than good.
    I would love to work at the olympics, and i would do it first and foremost for the love of sport and the uk, not for the money.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 1188.

    McCluskeys probably sulking because he's been told he's not getting his VIP tickets for the games that he thought he would be entitled to !!

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 1187.

    Yes the public sector is vital to the UK... but the UK economy cannot survive without private sector investment either. What signal does it send to anyone thinking of locating their companies and jobs in the UK if pretty much the greatest event on Earth is seized upon by the unions as an opportunity to cause maximum disruption?

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 1186.

    We have all been waiting to see which of the dinosaur Unions would be the first to threaten strike action during the Olympics.
    Would it be the RMT or ASLEF but no it was Unite.
    Maybe they should ask Arthur Scargill for advice on how to stage an strike at the wrong moment, lose public sympathy and finally lose the battle.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 1185.

    Scirop

    No looting by me and I pay for my own shoes.

    You misunderstand my name. The Rebecca is real and the Riot is historical. If you google it, You will find out more. Becca was my very distant relation, a Chartist leader, and Rebecca was his daughter. The right of democratic protest runs deep!

    I reported your offensive comment. The BBC agree and it was removed!

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 1184.

    I totally agree with McCluskey. For Labour to criticise his comments just goes to show that the political system in this country has had it. There's no alternative to who's in power, just a different set of out of touch imbeciles getting a chance to further their own agendas. .

 

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