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UK Girds For Widespread Strikes Against Austerity Measures; Unions Vow To Work With Students

UK unions will join with students to fight against austerity measures that will cause widespread hardship: The UK faces the prospect of widespread and co-ordinated industrial action in the new year, with the leader of the largest trade union

UK unions will join with students to fight against austerity measures that will cause widespread hardship:

The UK faces the prospect of widespread and co-ordinated industrial action in the new year, with the leader of the largest trade union today warning that it is "preparing for battle" with the government over its "unprecedented assault" on the welfare state.

Len McCluskey, the newly elected leader of Unite, says union leaders will be holding a special meeting in January to discuss a "broad strike movement" to stop what he described as the coalition's "explicitly ideological" programme of cuts. Writing in the Guardian, McCluskey praises the "magnificent student movement" that has seen tens of thousands of young people take to the streets to protest at the government's plans for post-16 education, saying it has put trade unions "on the spot".

"Their mass protests against the tuition fees increase have refreshed the political parts a hundred debates, conferences and resolutions could not reach," he said.

McCluskey, elected Unite general secretary last month, said trade unions had to work with students to build a wider anti-cuts campaign: "The magnificent students' movement needs urgently to find a wider echo if the government is to be stopped.

"While it is easy to dismiss 'general strike now' rhetoric from the usual quarters, we have to be preparing for battle," he said. "It is our responsibility not just to our members but to the wider society that we defend our welfare state and our industrial future against this unprecedented assault."

The Unite leader's intervention comes as the prime minister is preparing for a key meeting with union leaders today. David Cameron has invited leaders of the biggest unions in the country as well as the TUC for Downing Street talks, although a spokesman for No 10 would not confirm this last night.

As yet, we see no student movement here, probably because they've been indoctrinated with conservative economic dogma for their entire lives and still think many of these proposals are "rational." "People are living longer, why shouldn't we raise the retirement age?"

Sooner or later, there will be a tipping point. I wonder how bad it will have to get for that to happen.

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