Tuesday, 13 September 2011

BBC News - Unions planning 'series of national strikes'

Unions planning 'series of national strikes'

Public sector workers on strike back in June The unions are threathening mass strike action

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The UK's biggest trade unions have drawn up plans for a sustained campaign of industrial action involving several one-day national strikes, the BBC has learned.

Until now it had been assumed there would be a single day of action in November.

But a senior union leader has confirmed that the action will be more sustained and involve millions of workers.

Widespread industrial action could start by late November.

'Co-ordinated action'

"The idea that we will have a one-day dispute, marching around town with a few flags... ain't going to do it," said the union leader.

When asked specifically whether there would be a number of one-day national strikes, he replied "yep".

Unions plan to follow up the national strikes with various types of co-ordinated action across Britain.

"In some areas there will be two or three days," said the union leader.

"In other areas it will be continuous. In other areas it will be a rolling programme."

'Big three'

He added: "There are lists that are being drawn up of targeted areas."

Start Quote

I think you are going to see the biggest financial-gathering exercise by the trade unions so that you can keep people out”

End Quote Union boss

The three biggest public sector unions - Unison, Unite and the GMB - are thought to be close to announcing a strike ballot over planned pension reforms.

Between them they would have to ballot around 1.5 million members, ranging from the health sector to local government.

The involvement of the "big three" unions would significantly escalate the dispute and could bring millions of workers out on strike.

More details could emerge at the TUC conference on Wednesday when the key debate on public sector pensions will take place.

The government is seeking increases in pension contributions from next April, while millions of workers continue to face a pay freeze.

The senior union leader confirmed that preparation for the confrontation had been under way for months.

To prevent lower paid union workers suffering hardship through lost earnings, the unions are planning a major fund-raising drive.

"I think you are going to see the biggest financial-gathering exercise by the trade unions so that you can keep people out," he said.