The leader of Unite, Len McCluskey has said the coordinated public sector industrial action on pay was “very much on the cards” in the coming months.
The boss of Britain’s biggest union has said go as far as to support illegal strike action in protest over a 1% public sector pay cap.
From the month of March, strike ballots have had to get a 50% turnout for the legal, industrial action go ahead.
The BBC understands ministers to lift the cap of the police and prison guards.’Artificial threshold”
Mr McCluskey, who is the latest senior figure in the union to threaten the widespread walkouts, said it would challenge the legal requirement that the strike had to be approved by a referendum, with a turnout of over 50%.
“If you [meet the members] not able to reach an artificial threshold of this government have stupidly put on the statute books, then I will stand with our members and we all live, including the government, we all will be able to live with the consequences.”
He made the comments at the Trade Union Congress conference in Brighton that he voted in support of coordinated campaigns.
Speaking to the BBC’s political correspondent, Ross Hawkins, Mr McCluskey said: “In terms of the concept of co-ordinated public service workers action, then yes, I think that is very likely, and very much on the cards.
“We should always stand shoulder to shoulder with our members. If the government, and we have pushed outside of the law, they should be the consequences.”Frozen
The unions are pressing for a 5% increase for millions of nurses, teachers, municipal staff, officials and other workers.
Public-sector pay was frozen for all but the lowest income in 2010 and increases 1% per year starting from 2013, as part of the measures to reduce public expenditure.
The prime minister has come under increasing pressure from the opposition and some senior figures within his own party to abandon the cap in the wake of the June snap election when he lost his parliamentary majority.
There has been speculation that the government would agree to the award of the police and prison guards increases above 1% this week, according to the recommendations of independent review bodies.Repeal of the law
Labour’s shadow justice secretary and shadow lord chancellor, Richard Burgon, speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme repeatedly refused to say if he had a strike call without a 50% vote, turnout, calling such a scenario “hypothetical”.
“In relation to the question of trade in strike ballots, that we have always supported is to encourage the greatest number of votes possible.
“What a Labour government would do would be to repeal the Law on trade unions, which seeks to stop trade unions take action to stop ordinary people… from suffering a 14% pay cut in real terms,” Mr Burgon added.
Mark Serwotka, leader of the Public and Commercial Services union, has made an appeal for the end to pay restraint during the debate at the TUC Congress on Monday.
Mr Serwotka said PCS members, who are balloted for industrial action, had suffered a 10% pay cut because of the cap, an increase of 20% by 2020.
He said it would be “great” to have coordinated cards for the voting of the Budget.
The TUC general secretary Frances O’grady said the coordinated action was a “last resort” if the government has refused to give “the people the pay rise they deserve”.
Dave Prentis, the general secretary of Unison, said the other actions would be pursued widespread walk outs.
“We must commit to marching, demonstrating and lobbying – not only in Westminster, but in Belfast, Cardiff and Edinburgh.
“We need public events in the main cities and towns around the country to change the face of political and press and hold to Conservative Mps to account their own back yard, and a joint ballot for industrial action, if all else fails.”‘Traitors within’
Mr McCluskey said that the media and the “traitors” to the Labour Party had been proved wrong, the appeal of Jeremy Corbyn and his “radical policies”.
He floated the idea of the Party, of having a second deputy leader, which would be a woman.
This suggestion was seen as a thinly veiled attack on the party of the current deputy head Tom Watson, who met with Unite leaders in the past.