Monday, 20 December 2010

Unite leader: 'prepare for co-ordinated mass action in 2011'

The Guardian, under the headline 'Unions warn of massive wave of strikes', reports:

'The UK faces the prospect of widespread and co-ordinated industrial action in the new year, with the leader of the largest trade union today warning that it is "preparing for battle" with the government over its "unprecedented assault" on the welfare state.

Len McCluskey, the newly elected leader of Unite, says union leaders will be holding a special meeting in January to discuss a "broad strike movement" to stop what he described as the coalition's "explicitly ideological" programme of cuts.

Writing in the Guardian, McCluskey praises the "magnificent student movement" that has seen tens of thousands of young people take to the streets to protest at the government's plans for post-16 education, saying it has put trade unions "on the spot".

"Their mass protests against the tuition fees increase have refreshed the political parts a hundred debates, conferences and resolutions could not reach," he said.'

The article also reports:

'Unite has signed up to the Coalition of Resistance campaign group which brings together unions with local anti-cuts campaigns across the country, he said, adding the challenge now was to persuade people that there is an alternative to the cuts.

"Unless people are convinced not just that they are hurting – not hard to do – but also that there is a coherent alternative to the Cameron-Clegg class-war austerity, then getting millions into action will remain a pipedream."'

Len McCluskey speaking at last month's Coalition of Resistance conference:

The report is largely based on a comment piece by McCluskey for The Guardian, 'Unions, get set for battle', in which he writes:

'The magnificent students' movement urgently needs to find a wider echo if the government is to be stopped.

The response of trade unions will now be critical. While it is easy to dismiss "general strike now" rhetoric from the usual quarters, we have to be preparing for battle. It is our responsibility not just to our members but to the wider society that we defend our welfare state and our industrial future against this unprecedented assault.'


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