Unite Union warns of co-ordinated strike action

Public sector strike in London
Image caption An estimated 1.5 million people went on strike in November 2011 over public sector pension reforms

The leader of the UK's largest union has warned that there could be more co-ordinated strikes in response to the government's spending cuts.

Len McCluskey, the general secretary of the Unite Union, said he would support calls for strikes which could take place within months.

"There is a real chance of co-ordinated action, if not this winter then certainly early next year," he said.

Mr McCluskey was speaking ahead of the TUC Congress in Brighton this weekend.

Delegates are expected to hear repeated calls for co-ordinated industrial action - like that seen over the issue of pensions during the past year.

'Support action'

An estimated 1.5 million people went on strike on 30 November last year to protest over reforms to public sector pensions.

Hundreds of thousands of people also marched through London in March 2011 to highlight the need for an alternative approach to the economy.

Mr McCluskey says such action could happen again, but this time linked to issues including pensions, jobs and pay.

"We would certainly support calls for co-ordinated industrial action on pay and indeed other issues," he said.

"It was never going to be one single march on 26 March, or indeed one dispute over pensions - it was always going to be an ongoing fight."

'Paying the price'

Mr McCluskey is expected to address the congress on Monday. He will call for a £1 increase in the national minimum wage to boost the economy by giving lower paid workers more spending power.

He will also call for a cap on energy bills to help struggling families.

Mr McCluskey said he believed strike action was "inevitable". He said that the timing of any industrial action would be down to union members.

"This government is intent on trying to make… ordinary working people pay the price for a crisis that they didn't cause," he said.

"I think it is inevitable, as workers get more and more angry and frustrated as to the pressures on them, both in the private and the public sector, that there will be a demand for them to take industrial action.

"I see the issue of strikes and continuing protests actually increasing as we move closer and closer towards a general election."

Mr McCluskey has previously called for civil disobedience in response to government cuts.

The Unite union, which has 1.5 million members, was at the heart of the tanker drivers' dispute earlier this year, which resulted in panic buying on petrol-station forecourts.

The union also threatened to disrupt public transport during the Olympics over the issue of a bonus payment for London bus drivers.

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