'The second half of 2010 has been marked by a fierce assault on public services from a government of millionaires. In response, a promising anti-cuts movement is emerging. But many people on the recent demonstrations are asking: where are the unions? I want 2011 to be the year where this question is answered definitively, with unions placing themselves firmly on the side of active and innovative campaigning.
The union movement today is different to that of the early 1980s – the last time we faced such an attack on the public sector and the welfare state. Membership is barely over half what it was, and anti-union laws constrain us. This is a reality, but does not fatally undermine the potential for resistance.
The UK has a higher trade union density and membership than France. And while some suggest there is something "un-British" about the French street mobilisations, the student protests and the high-street tax justice protests have challenged that. Direct action is being organised by a new generation of activists, radicalised by gross injustice.
We must not let this passion dissipate. Trade unionists live in households and communities with young people, with those on welfare, with pensioners, with people suffering in both the public and private sectors. I have consistently said not a single penny needs to be cut and not a single job should be lost. The cuts are not economically necessary; they are a political choice.'