Len McCluskey threatens illegal strike action over public sector pay cap

Posted On: 
12th September 2017

Len McCluskey has said he is prepared to sanction illegal strike action unless the Government lifts the public sector pay cap.

Trade union members on a picket line.
PA Images

The Unite boss - whose union is Labour's biggest donor - said ministers will "have to stand the consequences" unless they scrap the policy.

Pay rises in the public sector are currently capped at 1%, although the Government is expected to begin lifting it for some workers later this week.

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New trade union laws brought in last year mean at least 50% of those eligible to vote in a strike ballot must take part for any industrial action to be legal

But appearing on Radio Four's Today programme, Mr McCluskey said he was willing to defy the law if his members wanted to stage walkouts.

"If the government have pushed us outside the law then they’ll have to stand the consequences," he said.

"If they haven’t managed to hit an artificial threshold that this government have foolishly put onto the statute books, then I’ll stand by our members.

"We’ll all live – including the government – we’ll all live with the consequences of that."

In a bizarre interview on the same programme, Shadow Justice Secretary Richard Burgon repeatedly refused to condemn Mr McCluskey's threat.

He said: “There isn’t any illegal action taking place. I think the real issue is rather than talking about one line from a speech or interview from a general secretary of a trade union, we should be talking about the reality faced by hundreds and thousands of your listeners, nurses, care assistant, fire fighters, prison officers, teachers, and all too often they get written out of this discussion."