Ed Miliband warns against Royal Wedding strikes

Pa
Sunday 16 January 2011 13:04
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Labour leader Ed Miliband today said he would "totally condemn" any attempt to disrupt the Royal Wedding or the London Olympics with strike action.

In a warning shot to union bosses, Mr Miliband said that strikes were a "legitimate last resort" in industrial disputes, but he did not want to see them used in a co-ordinated attempt to undermine the coalition Government, insisting that this was not the way to bring about a change in power.

He insisted there must be no going back to the divisive and politically-driven disputes of the 1980s, such as the miners' strike led by Arthur Scargill, which divided the nation and presented Labour with a hugely-damaging challenge to its credibility as a potential government.

Mr Miliband's comments come after rail union Aslef suggested that Tube drivers could strike on April 29, the day Prince William marries Kate Middleton, while Unite general secretary Len McCluskey declined to rule out industrial action during the 2012 Olympics.

RMT transport union boss Bob Crow has called for coordinated strike action and civil disobedience in protest at the Government's planned spending cuts.

But Mr Miliband disassociated himself with any plans to use industrial action for political aims and said he was "appalled" at the prospect of a Tube strike on the day of the Royal Wedding.

He told BBC1's Andrew Marr Show: "I am appalled at the idea of strikes to disrupt people going to the Royal Wedding and enjoying the Royal Wedding.

"That is absolutely the wrong thing for trade unions to do. I hope that is not the case, I hope it is not true, but I would totally condemn that - similarly in relation to the Olympics."

He added: "Let me say this very clearly about industrial action - strikes are a last resort. They are a sign of failure on both sides. They are a legitimate last resort means of workers making an industrial point, but they are not the way you change governments. The way you change governments is through the ballot box.

"Of course they should not strike to disrupt the Royal Wedding. It alienates the public, it is wrong and it is not the way to make the political argument that we need to make.

"The political argument we need to make is done through peaceful campaigning, through voting - including through the by-election and the local elections and Scottish and Welsh elections.

"What we are not going to do under my leadership is go back to the heroic failures of the 1980s because those failures of the union movement set back our party. That's not what I want to see."

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