Cameron is 'bashing' workers says union leader

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The Independent Online

The new leader of Britain's biggest trade union called on Prime Minister David Cameron today to stop "bashing" workers as he defended protests against the Government's policies.

Len McCluskey, general secretary-designate of Unite, said it was the duty of unions to defend jobs and terms and conditions and to try to persuade the Government to invest in communities, rather than "killing" them.

But he accused the media of being "obsessed" with strikes amid warnings of walkouts by London Underground drivers on the day of the royal wedding, April 29, and the prospect of fresh industrial action by British Airways cabin crew.

He told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme there was "no likelihood" of a BA strike on the royal wedding day, adding that no dates for action had yet been set because workers were still voting on whether to hold more strikes.

"Striking is always the last option - I have never met a worker who likes going on strike."

Mr McCluskey, who takes over as general secretary of Unite at the end of the month, urged the Government to tackle the financial deficit through tax reform and economic growth, rather than spending cuts, and attacked the multibillion-pound bank bonus payout expected in the coming weeks.

The financial crisis had been caused by "spivs, speculators and greedy bankers", said Mr McCluskey, adding: "We are already back to business as usual, with the Prime Minister saying we should stop bashing bankers, but he has no problem bashing workers or communities.

"I am not calling for the Government to be brought down, but we have a right to demonstrate against their decisions. Their cuts agenda is morally wrong and economically dangerous. It is our duty to protest if we feel the Government is doing something wrong."

Mr McCluskey said reports had shown that between £25 billion and £40 billion a year is lost to the Treasury through tax avoidance.

"We want the Government to concentrate on that and start investing in our communities, not killing them."

The BA cabin crew ballot will end on January 21.