Unions threaten strike action over pay cap

Unions threaten strike action over pay cap”

Union boss Len McCluskey has said he will "disregard" a new law to hold strikes with less than a 50 per cent ballot turnout, over public sector pay.

There has been speculation in the media that the government will agree to award police and prison officers increases above 1 percent this week based on recommendations from independent review bodies.

But McCluskey said this was an "artificial threshold" and that "if the government have pushed us outside the law then they will have to stand the consequences".

Mr Watson and Mr McCluskey have clashed in the past.

He said: "You'll be pleased to know that a coordinated strike isn't illegal. It won't stop us standing up", he said. "It's for the trade unions to decide what actions they take", he said.

The unions are pressing for a 5% increase for millions of nurses, teachers, council staff, civil servants and other workers.

This would be the first time the government has relaxed the curbs, which froze pay for two years in 2010 and limited subsequent annual growth to 1 percent, as part of the government's austerity program introduced in 2010.

Her position within her own party and cabinet, meanwhile, has been enfeebled by a poor showing in the June election that saw her ruling Conservative party's majority in parliament radically cut.

It said constabularies across England and Wales had budgeted only for a 1% rise and an increase in line with the rate of inflation would cost forces an extra £150m.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4′s Today programme moments after McCluskey, Burgon dodged six questions about whether he backed the idea of illegal strikes.

"What a Labour government would do would be to repeal the Trade Union Act which is seeking to stop trade unions from taking action to stop ordinary people... from suffering a 14% pay cut in real terms".

The shadow justice secretary, Richard Burgon, refused four times to say whether he would back illegal strike action.

Mark Serwotka, leader of the Public and Commercial Services union, made a plea for an end to pay restraint during the debate at the TUC Congress on Monday.

The composite motion called for "immediate steps to develop a coordinated strategy of opposition to the pay cap ... including ... pay demands, campaign activities, tactics, ballots and industrial action".

Mr Burgon added that a co-ordinated strike would not be illegal.

"If they were hypothetical Len McCluskey would have said so himself".

"I'm very clear that people are angry and if we don't get that pay rise then the TUC (Trades Union Congress) is certainly ready to assist our unions and coordinate as we always do", Frances O'Grady, general secretary of the TUC, the union umbrella group.

"We must commit to marching, demonstrating and lobbying - not just in Westminster, but in Belfast, Cardiff and Edinburgh too".

However, major unions passed a motion at the conference calling for joint action against the 1% public sector pay cap.

Mr McCluskey also launched a thinly veiled attack on Tom Watson, Labour's deputy leader, as he said the party should have a second deputy leader who is a woman.

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