General Strike Overdue

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TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady has said on the eve of the annual TUC Congress, that unions may come together in co-ordinated strike action in the coming months.

On Thursday, teacher unions NUT and NASUWT announced two new joint regional strikes and plans for a joint national one-day strike before Christmas, over pay, pensions and workloads.

The Communication Workers Union has announced a national strike ballot over pay and conditions at Royal Mail, and the Fire Brigades Union is beginning a national strike ballot over pensions.

O’Grady said on Thursday: ‘I’ve met unions that are either planning, considering or have ballots on issues of national significance.

‘My job is to co-ordinate that, where unions want it and where members vote for it.’

She added that there were many ways in which co-ordination could take place, but stressed that no-one should rush into strike action.

Last year, the Congress voted to consider the practicalities of holding a general strike.

While many workers are demanding the TUC goes ahead and calls the general strike to remove the hated Tory-led coalition, O’Grady claimed that the appetite now was to focus on the disputes taking place and try to resolve them.

Also, amid growing tension between the trade unions and the Labour leadership, O’Grady said she expected Miliband, who will address Congress on Tuesday, to get a good reception.

The TUC leader added that she did not see any desire to break the link between the Labour Party and trade unions.

She said: ‘Unlike some of his predecessors, he’s not embarrassed by unions.’

All Trades Union Alliance national secretary Dave Wiltshire said yesterday: ‘O’Grady is ducking the issue at the TUC of calling a general strike.

‘It’s been a year since the TUC overwhelmingly passed a motion calling for them to consider the practicalities of a general strike.

‘The TUC have spent 12 months thinking about a general strike and doing absolutely nothing.

‘The time has come for them to get up off their knees and call a general strike to bring down this hated government, or face being chucked out and replaced by a leadership that will fight for a workers government and socialism.’