Ministers warned of a ‘de-facto national strike’ after unions say they are ready to co-ordinate


‘Let’s start a thousand fires’: Ministers are warned of a ‘de-facto national strike’ after union barons said they are ready to co-ordinate industrial action to heap pressure on Government over pay row

  • Union bosses across the UK have warned of holding more strikes this summer
  • Gary Smith, general secretary of the GMB, said co-ordinated action could occur
  • The RMT will be striking for three days this month over job security and pay

Britain could face a ‘de facto national strike’ this summer, ministers were warned yesterday.

Militant union barons said they were ready to co-ordinate strike action with the RMT in the coming weeks to cause maximum chaos and pile pressure on the Government to surrender on pay.

Gary Smith, general secretary of the GMB, said he had no qualms about co-ordinating strike action with other unions in order to ‘leverage our power’.

Mr Smith, whose union is one of Labour’s biggest donors, said that ‘a thousand fires’ were breaking out across the country as unions pushed for higher pay to reflect the soaring cost of living.

He denied unions were already planning a national strike but warned it could follow unless ministers and employers back down.

Gary Smith (pictured), general secretary of the GMB, has said he would co-ordinate with other unions to hold strikes at the same time to 'leverage' their power

Gary Smith (pictured), general secretary of the GMB, has said he would co-ordinate with other unions to hold strikes at the same time to ‘leverage’ their power

Christina McAnea (pictured), general-secretary of Unison, said she would tell her union members to strike if government pay settlements come in below inflation

Christina McAnea (pictured), general-secretary of Unison, said she would tell her union members to strike if government pay settlements come in below inflation

‘You are seeing disputes across the country caused by the cost of living,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s The World This Weekend. ‘I don’t think there is a single strategy at the moment – it is just working people saying enough is enough – but in time that may happen, particularly in the public sector.’

Bruce Carr, an employment barrister who previously advised the Government on union policy, warned that 1980s legislation banning sympathy strikes could not prevent barons co-ordinating to produce a form of national strike.

‘If you have a series of separate trade disputes that are properly balloted with different employers there is nothing to stop Unite and the RMT getting on the phone to co-ordinate… so you could have a de facto national strike with different unions calling out different industries at the same time.’

Christina McAnea, general-secretary of Unison, said she would be recommending strike action to her 1.3 million members if government pay settlements come in below inflation. Britain has not faced a national strike since 1926.

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