Ahead of the mass public-sector walk out on Wednesday, labour leader Ed Miliband has strongly condemned strikes, calling them a “sign of failure.”
Speaking to the BBC, Miliband said, “Strikes are always a sign of failure but I’m not going to demonise the people who are taking the action.”
Miliband also called on the government to hold “primary responsibility” if the strikes go ahead.
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“Why are they [public sector workers] taking the action? Because they’re facing, for example, a three per cent tax rise on low-paid public sector workers.
“All we hear is them shouting from the rooftops – what they should actually be doing is getting round the table. Ministers haven’t actually met people since the beginning of November,” he added.
On the contrary, Miliband’s former shadow chancellor Alan Johnson sympathised with the trade unions.
“Every independent trade union can ballot under very strict rules. If they can’t do that over an issue as important as their pensions then what can they take industrial action over? On this issue I think the government generally want to negotiate a settlement but they started off badly,” he said.
In an interview with LondonlovesBusiness.com, TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said, “It is entirely predictable that business leaders are disappointed at the strike, which will cause disruption. The blame for this lies squarely on the government for failing to take the negotiations seriously until the day of action was called.”
The public sector strikes taking place on Wednesday promise to be the biggest in nearly a century, costing the economy £500m.
Twenty-three unions plan to strike, prompting a walk-out by 2.6 million public sector workers. The last strike of this magnitude was the general strike of 1926.