The Daily Telegraph

Union leaders threaten winter of mass strikes ‘to end pay crisis’

- By India Mctaggart and Oliver Gill

UNIONS yesterday threatened co-ordinated mass strikes to cripple Britain this winter as rail workers announced a new week of network disruption.

The UK’S largest trade union, Unison, as well as unions representi­ng civil servants, rail and postal workers, told the Trades Union Congress (TUC), their organising body, that synchronis­ed action would “end this pay crisis in this country”. Union bosses met today for the annual TUC conference in Brighton, where Frances O’grady, the outgoing general secretary, said co-ordinated strike action was “already happening”.

She said: “When workers are left with no choice but to vote for strike action for decent pay, I say: bring it on.”

The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) yesterday announced a fresh week of travel misery for commuters. Members at Network Rail are to walk out on Nov 3, 5 and 7, while London Undergroun­d workers will also strike on Nov 3.

Mick Lynch, head of the RMT, was among union chiefs intensifyi­ng warnings of synchronis­ed strike action at yesterday’s conference.

Mr Lynch told a fringe meeting: “We need an uprising. We need a whole wave of synchronis­ed, co-ordinated action. I don’t care what it’s called.”

Mark Serwotka, the head of the PCS union that represents 150,000 civil servants, said: “We stand prepared to take action on the same day as any other union to show the Government we strike together.”

Andy Kerr, the deputy general secretary of the CWU, the postal workers’ union, said he supported “co-ordinated industrial action to defend ourselves”.

Christina Mcanea, the general secretary of Unison, which is balloting 400,000 health workers, also added her voice, saying: “Co-ordinated action unites us and we have a single goal: end this pay crisis in this country.”

While several union general secretarie­s told the conference that they stood ready to take such synchronis­ed action, the TUC steered clear of calling for a general strike by name.

The last time Britain faced a general strike called by the TUC was in 1926, although the 1970s saw multiple strikes across sectors.

A TUC spokesman said: “If there is large-scale strike action over the months ahead the Government only has itself to blame. The TUC has always existed to help co-ordinate strike action between unions.

“Nobody withdraws their labour lightly. But UK workers are suffering the longest squeeze on their living standards in more than 200 years.”

The developmen­t came as the school leaders’ union, the NAHT, said that head teachers would be balloted on industrial action over funding and pay a 125-year first.

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