THE head of Britain’s largest trade union has said workers should be prepared to engage in a campaign of civil disobedience against coalition cuts – just weeks after Britain was gripped by the worst riots in a generation.
Len McCluskey, the firebrand leader of the Unite union, refused to rule out so-called “direct action” and praised militant protest group UK Uncut, which has targeted companies by staging sit-ins at banks and occupying well-known retailers like Fortnum and Mason and Topshop.
He called on workers to engage in a “campaign of resistance so that the government will take stock and perhaps take a step back from” its “attack” on public sector jobs and pensions.
“I don’t think we can rule anything out,” he told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show.
Sir Philip Green, the owner of the Arcadia group, has claimed that the occupation of Fortnum and Mason and other retailers by UK Uncut during the anti-cuts march earlier this year encouraged the recent riots. His shops, which include the Topshop and BHS chains, have been targeted by UK Uncut in the past.
McCluskey’s call to arms came ahead of the Trade Unions Congress conference, which begins in London today.
He said: “My view is that we should rule nothing in and nothing out. Every conceivable form of protest and action should be carefully considered, from civil disobedience through to co-ordinated industrial strikes.”
“Everything should be considered in the face of the type of onslaught that we are looking at,” he added.
TUC head Brendan Barber said last week that Britain faced widespread strikes this autumn unless ministers changed tack on plans to raise public sector workers’ contributions to their pensions.
Michael Fallon, deputy chairman of the Conservatives, called on Labour leader Ed Miliband to speak out against the unions.
He said: “Miliband’s union backers are planning a campaign of civil disobedience which would cause huge disruption. He needs to stand up to the union barons and show he is on the side of hard-working families”