The new head of the country’s biggest trade union has launched an angry attack against the Government for “dismantling the very fabric of society” and pledged to lead a resistance to the massive spending cuts now costing thousands of jobs.
Len McCluskey, who was elected general secretary of Unite, said he also wanted to make his union more effective and united after years of having two leaders and suggestions that the organisation had been “divided”.
He told the Press Association that Unite would play a central role in fighting the spending cuts, but he added that this was a “watershed moment” for the TUC.
“Union membership has fallen from 13 million to 6.5 million over the past 20 years and if the TUC does not demonstrate its importance to ordinary members, people will start to question its relevance.
“The TUC has to make certain that we co-ordinate the anger that is now building up against what the Government is doing. The very fabric of our society is being dismantled before our very eyes and we have a duty to lead a resistance against this attack. It is slaughter by stealth.”
Mr McCluskey, a Liverpool-born, lifelong trade union activist, said increasing numbers of Unite members were being balloted for industrial action to oppose the wave of job and pay cuts threatened by councils across England and Wales and said he would not rule anything out over the union’s plans to fight the cuts.
“We also need to be winning the public over and I want to see resistance building to such a degree that politicians have to take notice. We have to give people the confidence that there is something they can do.
“I don’t believe we should have an objective of bringing down the Government – that would be dangerous – but I do believe that when people come together, anything is possible.”
Mr McCluskey said he was “comfortable” about Labour leader Ed Miliband’s review of the party’s policies and even a fresh look at its relationship with the unions. He added: “I am fine with anything that makes Labour more effective, but just to be clear, the Labour Party is our party and if anyone wants to break the link then we will oppose that.”
Mr McCluskey takes over from Derek Simpson and Tony Woodley who have jointly run Unite since it was formed through a merger of Amicus and the Transport and General Workers Union.