‘The TUC is mounting a wide campaign against these mistaken policies,’ said TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber yesterday, after a special TUC meeting called to discuss the trade unions’ industrial response to the effects of government spending cuts.
Barber said: ‘The government’s agenda is doing huge damage to the economy and vital public services.
‘Today’s meeting was to consider the appropriate industrial response to the volatile cocktail of issues that face union members across the public sector – the pay freeze, job cuts and attacks on pensions.
‘No-one is talking about a general strike, but of course these attacks on our members could well give rise to industrial action around specific disputes.
‘Today’s meeting showed a clear determination for unions to work together on industrial issues including, as a last resort, industrial action when members support it.’
He added: ‘As a result of discussions with the Chancellor and other ministers, the government has agreed to central talks on the future of public service pensions. Ministers have now accepted that they will not force through changes in the March budget.
‘These will be difficult negotiations as public service workers will not allow their pensions to be hammered. We hope that the talks can make progress, but we cannot rule out industrial action taking place on this issue.
‘The TUC will continue its campaign against the deep and rapid spending cuts.
‘The demonstration on March 26 will be a huge event at which the British people will come together to show their opposition to the government’s chosen course.’
Earlier, Cameron’s Star Chamber chief, Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude, said a general strike would be illegal.
Commenting on calls to ban all strikes, from London Mayor Boris Johnson, Maude did not rule out more anti-union laws.
He said: ‘We think the laws work pretty well as they are and any changes to the law would be very much a last resort.’
Meanwhile, in a speech to business leaders and politicians at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, prime minister Cameron said that the deficit was ‘unsustainable’.
He warned: ‘It is going to be tough but we must see it through.’