5 Mar 2012

Unite leader threatens strikes during Olympics

Workers should consider using strike action to disrupt the Olympics as part of their campaign against the government's spending cuts, the leader of Unite has declared.
In an interview with the Guardian, Len McCluskey said attacks on public sector workers were "so deep and ideological" that targeting the Games would be justified. The call came as the RMT union increased the pressure on Boris Johnson by declaring a formal dispute after rejecting an Olympics pay deal for London Underground staff.
"If the Olympics provide us with an opportunity, then that's exactly one that we should be looking at," said McCluskey. He also said that any attempt by ministers to tighten anti-strike legislation would lead to unions deliberately breaking the law. 

He added: "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.
"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. I believe the unions, and the general community, have got every right to be out protesting."

McCluskey was speaking in general terms and he admitted Unite did not at this stage have specific plans for action during the Olympics. But he said his union represented London's 28,000 bus drivers and staff, who are involved in their own row about extra payments during the Olympics. The bus workers want £500 in supplementary pay for the Games, in line with deals at Network Rail, Virgin Trains and London Overground. "They will be examining what leverage points we have, and the Olympics will clearly come into play," he said.


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