LONDON – The leader of Britain's biggest trade union has threatened "civil disobedience" during the London Olympics in response to the UK government's austerity measures.
Len McCluskey, leader of Unite, said workers should consider using strike action to disrupt the Games as part of their campaign against the government's spending cuts.
The left-wing union leader dubbed "Red Len" told The Guardian newspaper that attacks on public sector workers were "so deep and ideological" that targeting the Games would be justified.
"If the Olympics provide us with an opportunity, then that's exactly one that we should be looking at," he said.
"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," McCluskey added.
"Our very way of life is being attacked. By then this crazy health and social care bill may have been passed, so we are looking at the privatization of our National Health Service. I believe the unions, and the general community, have got every right to be out protesting."
McCluskey said that, because of the seriousness of the issues at stake, he was encouraging the public to engage in "all forms of civil disobedience within the law" in the campaign against cuts.
Condemning the Unite boss, Conservative Party co-chairman Sayeeda Warsi said, "This is an appalling display of naked self-interest by Labour's biggest financial backer."
"The London Olympics will be a great occasion for this country. It is disgraceful for a trade union boss to be calling for mass disruption when the eyes of the world will be on Britain," she added.
A senior Unite official told Sky News McCluskey was not calling for industrial action deliberately targeting the Olympics.
"There's no deliberate plan to disrupt the Olympics," she said. "But our members are feeling particularly aggrieved."
London bus drivers are calling for a $800 Olympics bonus to match that given to subway drivers, but talks have broken down and there could be industrial action as a result, the official said.