Crow demands response to Cameron's 'fiscal fascism'

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A left-wing trade union leader will today issue a "call to arms" for waves of strikes and protests to defend public services from the coalition's planned spending cuts.

Bob Crow, head of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT), says direct action, similar to demonstrations against the poll tax 20 years ago, is needed to fight the Government's "fiscal fascism".

Ministers are preparing to slash public spending by £32bn and George Osborne, the Chancellor, has proposed a two-year pay freeze for public-sector workers earning more than £21,000. Public consultation is to take place this summer in an attempt to calm public unrest about the impact of the cuts.

But Mr Crow, speaking at the RMT annual conference today, will demand national protests, including "general and co-ordinated strike action across the public and private sectors". He will also call for direct action to defend public services "in the teeth of fiscal fascism" being unleashed by the Conservative and Liberal Democrats.

Mr Crow will accuse David Cameron and Nick Clegg of throwing down the "biggest challenge to the trade union movement" since Margaret Thatcher took on the miners in the 1980s. He will say: "It will take general and co-ordinated strike action across the public and private sectors to stop their savage assault on jobs, living standards and public services. Waving banners and placards will not be enough... to stop the Cameron and Clegg cuts machine."

Other unions have condemned the proposals in the emergency Budget. Unison said it would ballot for industrial action if the Government "comes for our pensions", while the Public and Commercial Services union said it would "stand up" for members' jobs.