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Unions urge huge campaign of industrial action and disobedience over cuts

Unions have warned of coordinated strikes and civil disobedience to fight the Government's spending cuts amid revelations that more than 200,000 public sector jobs across the UK have been axed or are at risk.

Councils, health authorities, police forces, Government departments and other public sector bodies across the country have all taken an axe to jobs in recent months after budgets were cut.

One leader warned that co-ordinated industrial action was “inevitable” as the TUC prepared a campaign of protests against the Government when its annual congress opens in Manchester today. Delegates will be asked to support joint union industrial action as well as other forms of protest, with a national demonstration planned for next March which could attract hundreds of thousands of people in the biggest show of anger in a generation.

Bob Crow, of the Rail Maritime and Transport union, said a campaign of civil disobedience was needed to fight spending cuts. He said: “Maybe we need Batman climbing up 10 Downing street, or Spider-Man on Buckingham Palace as part of peaceful demonstrations of civil disobedience.

“Unions should also link up together because we are confronting the same enemy; otherwise they will be picked off one at a time.”

Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services union, said industrial action was “inevitable”, adding that unless unions worked together to fight back the future was “bleak”.

“Over 100,000 civil service jobs have been cut over the past six years and we are now being hit by closures and cuts even as the sword of Chancellor George Osborne hangs in the air.”

Mr Serwotka said the cuts will be on a totally different scale after next month's comprehensive spending review, adding: “We ain't seen nothing yet. People are very worried and demoralised and just waiting for things to get worse.

“While industrial action may be necessary, it is clear the most effective opposition would be the biggest popular movement we have seen for many years.”

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said unions would be reaching out to the wider community to form a “progressive alliance” to make the case for an alternative to spending cuts.

A GMB study showed that 150,000 jobs were lost or are in the pipeline to be cut in over 150 public sector organisations across the UK. Press Association research showed that another 90,000 workers could lose their jobs because of moves by public sector organisations to cut spending.

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