The leader of Britain's biggest union has said workers should consider strike action to disrupt the Olympic Games in London as a protest against the government's public spending cuts, according to a newspaper interview published on Tuesday.
Len McCluskey, general-secretary of the Unite union, told the Guardian that the cuts, part of the coalition's austerity measures, were so unfair that they justified action during the showpiece sporting event.
If the Olympics provide us with an opportunity, then that's exactly one that we should be looking at, McCluskey, regarded as one of Britain's more militant union leaders, was quoted as saying on the newspaper's website.
Many unions representing some of Britain's 6 million public sector workers have been involved in a long-running dispute with the government over reforms to their pensions.
The government, trying to turn around a debt-laden economy teetering on the brink of recession, says the changes are needed as people are living longer and public service pensions are unaffordable.
It has also implemented deep spending cuts which have led to the loss of tens of thousands of public sector jobs.
Last November, hundreds of thousands of workers went on strike over the pension issue in the biggest walkout seen in Britain for a generation.
Some unions are now closing on a deal, but McCluskey, whose union represents 1.5 million workers, said industrial action over pensions and other issues would continue.
He said this would involve all forms of different protest and action and the Games, which start at the end of July, provided a platform to bring their grievances to the attention of as many people as possible.
The attacks that are being launched on public sector workers at the moment are so deep and ideological that the idea the world should arrive in London and have these wonderful Olympic Games as though everything is nice and rosy in the garden is unthinkable, he told the Guardian.
He said there were no specific plans to target the Games but pointed out that his union represented London's bus drivers and staff who are involved in a dispute over extra payments during the Olympics.
Other public transport staff have already threatened to take action during the Olympics unless they received bonuses.
The RMT union said on Tuesday Transport for London staff would be balloted for industrial action over a ban on leave during the Olympics, while it also said it was in formal dispute with London Underground after failing to reach a deal over Olympic bonuses.
Sayeeda Warsi, co-chairman of the Conservative Party, condemned McCluskey's comments. Is it disgraceful for a trade union boss to be calling for mass disruption when the eyes of the world will be on Britain, Warsi said in a statement.
(Reporting by Michael Holden)