London 2012: Top Union boss threatens industrial action

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey says he considered the London Olympics a legitimate target for demonstration

london 2012 torch
Strikes by transport workers are one of the biggest concerns for London 2012 organisers Locog/Getty Images

london 2012 torch

The leader of Britain’s biggest union has admitted industrial action could be staged during this summer’s London 2012 Olympics.

Unite’s general secretary Len McCluskey told the Guardian that he considered the Games a legitimate target for demonstration, considering the large amount of public money, over £7bn, spent on the event despite continued government spending cuts.

Unite represents many transport workers, who are locked in negotiations over extra payments for the increased workload they expect during the Olympics and Paralympics.

And McCluskey admitted officials were discussing what leverage they could apply to those talks.

“The attacks that are being launched on public sector workers at the moment are so deep and ideological that the idea the world should arrive in London and have these wonderful Olympic Games as though everything is nice and rosy in the garden is unthinkable,” said McCluskey.

“Our very way of life is being attacked. I believe the unions, and the general community, have got every right to be out protesting. If the Olympics provide us with an opportunity, then that’s exactly one that we should be looking at.

“Now nobody has made any decisions yet and, of course, it would be nice if we were able not to disrupt such a prestigious event as the Olympics.

“I believe the unions, and the general community, have got every right to be out protesting. If the Olympics provide us with an opportunity, then that’s exactly one that we should be looking at.”

Olympic organisers are well aware of the impact any strike action could have on the Games, particularly with regards to transport – as underlined by the RMT’s repeated walkouts on the London Underground.

Four years ago they announced a set of overarching ‘Principles of Co-operation’ with the Trade Union Congress, which, while not legally binding, they hoped would form the basis of a positive partnership.

Unions 2012, the group which brings together all unions that have an interest in the success of the Olympics and Paralympics, meets regularly with organisers Locog, while Barry Camfield – a former senior official at the Transport and General Workers Union – sits on the Olympic Delivery Authority board.

© Sportsbeat 2012

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