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General strike could be ‘landmark’ in union campaigns

Two of the UK’s largest unions have backed plans for the first general strike since 1926. The proposed 24-hour walkout would see coordinated private and public sector action against austerity measures.

Last year’s TUC conference voted in favour of examining the feasibility of a general strike and individual unions have set out their proposals to the TUC.

Unite argued: “It would be a landmark in our movement’s recovery of its morale, strength and capacity to play a leading part in a society crying out for credible and honourable leadership.”

And Unison told The Independent:  “A general strike – in principle, yes, we would support that, provided there was a legitimate trade dispute and it was legal.

“We believe that a general strike can only be the culmination of a campaign, not the beginning of a campaign.”

Strikes have to relate to specific disputes under employment law.

A PCS spokesperson said: “If we as a union movement are serious about opposing what the Government is doing, then clearly the best weapon at our disposal is industrial action. The best way to deploy that weapon is co-ordinated action. If you want to call that a general strike, we would be more than happy to call it that.”

A Labour spokesman said: “There is no consensus for a general strike across the trade union movement. Strikes should be a last resort, and we are not in favour of a general strike.”

Other unions, such as the GMB, have yet to declare their position.

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