The leader of the UK’s biggest union has warned that there is a “real likelihood” of a fresh wave of coordinated public sector strike action before the end of the year.
Speaking on the eve of the annual TUC
Congress, which opens in Brighton on Sunday, Len McCluskey, Unite
’s general secretary, said that the pensions issue still remained a “festering sore”.
He also said that he supports calls for action with other unions over issues such as the Chancellor George Osborne’s public sector pay plans which, he claimed, were leading the country on a "path to poverty".
“There is a real chance of co-ordinated action, if not this winter, then certainly early next year,” McCluskey pointed out, adding that he expected the number of walk-outs and protests to increase as the country moved closer towards a general election.
A motion put forward for the TUC conference by the Public and Commercial Services union
has already made the call for “co-ordinated strike action against cuts in pensions, pay and jobs this autumn”.
The UK’s largest civil service union is keen for the walk-outs to take place as soon as possible after a TUC-backed march dubbed ‘A Future that Works’ that is scheduled to be held on 20 October in central London.
Although the PCS motion needs to go through a composite process and be combined with contributions from other unions, some form of strike call is expected to be voted on by TUC delegates during the conference.
In a speech at the TUC conference itself, meanwhile, McCluskey is expected to press the coalition government to raise the national minimum wage by £1 to £7.19. He also wants a cap on energy bills to protect families from higher prices this winter.
McCluskey said that a NMW hike would act as a “huge stimulus” to the economy by giving low-paid workers more spending power while costing the taxpayer nothing.
“There will be a huge injection of funds into the economy. We are talking about low-paid workers. If they get an additional £40 per week, they will be spending £40 per week, not putting any of it in the Cayman Islands,” he added.