Mark Serwotka's declaration that Britain's trade union movement faces a crisis of leadership is a recognition of the inadequacy of the fightback against the government's austerity agenda.
The civil servants' union PCS general secretary told a public meeting organised by Cardiff TUC this week that serious questions had to be asked.
Serwotka compared the widespread co-ordinated strike action by unions across Europe on November 14 with the TUC delivery of a protest letter to the Prime Minister.
He drew attention to the magnificent TUC-organised mass protests in March 2011 and last month, punctuated by two million workers in 29 unions striking together last November 30.
And he quoted approvingly the five-to-one vote at this year's TUC conference to consider the practicalities of a general strike and to back co-ordinated public-sector strikes over pay.
Like many who attended the conference he feels frustrated at failure to plan action on pay while all public-sector workers face yet another year of real-terms wage cuts.
The PCS leader was scathing about a TUC consultation document that stated as fact: "If there's a general strike, millions of people will be sacked and all the unions in Britain will have their funds sequestrated."
More likely, said Serwotka, the other side would back off in the face of such collective strength rather than effectively transforming a one-day strike into action lasting days or weeks.
This defeatist nonsense was rejected by the TUC executive committee, which is now working on an alternative document.
The labour movement and its potential allies in communities, NHS defence bodies, pensioners organisations, claimants groups and sundry single-issue campaigns must understand what is at stake and how to maximise public support.
Serwotka insisted - in contrast to the "lily-livered" Labour opposition criticism of "too fast, too deep" coalition cuts - on no cuts in public spending.
The government plans to implement £30 billion of cuts to the welfare budget - precisely the sum handed to big business in the form of reduced corporation tax and to millionaires through lowering the top rate of income tax.
"If they didn't give tax breaks to the richest, they wouldn't have to cut a penny off welfare," said Serwotka.
"It is a very clear political position they are taking. They are taking from the poorest to give to the richest."
Apart from the injustice of the government approach, insistence on a no-cuts approach is vital to ensure class unity - otherwise workers will be reduced to competing with each other to keep their jobs.
"We will have to make choices that we shouldn't be making - qualified teachers or classroom assistants, council staff working in leisure services or in libraries, people working in job centres or those on housing benefit.
"We'll end up having to choose which jobs are worth defending and which aren't. This would be catastrophic for our movement," said Serwotka.
He also pointed to £123bn in tax avoided or evaded every year, suggesting an end to job cuts in tax offices and a campaign to chase tax-dodgers.
The case for an economic alternative is unanswerable, raising the question as to why the coalition remains wedded to its deficit-cutting priority, assault on welfare and sweeping privatisation.
It's not a matter of incompetence or economic illiteracy. The neoliberal fanatics running government policy know exactly what they are doing.
Before the general election Tories and Liberal Democrats proposed very different approaches - Lib Dems because their strategy of posing as more progressive than Labour was bearing fruit while the Tories were intent on distancing themselves from the "nasty party" image that consigned them to three successive general election defeats.
Now in office, they spout lines about rebuilding the economy out of the wreckage created by Labour, but their goal is more sinister.
It is to drive through an ambitious agenda that the voters would never have voted for - the complete dismantling of the postwar welfare state, NHS and democratically accountable state education.
Whatever the result of the next general election, the Tories and their Liberal Democrat Orange Book allies calculate that they will have transformed the economic and political situation to create a new status quo as Margaret Thatcher did, which went unchallenged by new Labour.
The facts are clear. As bad as the current situation is, with 660,000 public-sector jobs lost since 2010, 80 per cent of planned coalition cuts are yet to be implemented.
A further 1.3 million jobs are for the axe, the majority in the private sector as a result of public-sector contracts drying up.
Education Secretary Michael Gove is handing out money like confetti to destroy local education authorities so that 48 per cent of secondary schools are already unaccountable academies.
For the unions to sit on their hands and wait for a possible Labour victory in 2015 would amount to complicity in their own defeat.
PCS will ballot its members next month for further strike action "on the question of pay and the bonfire of our terms and conditions."
Success in that ballot and in the broader struggle to prevent the destruction of everything held dear by working people requires that the movement rouses itself to reality and acts appropriately.