Unite union general secretary Len McCluskey called today for a campaign of "civil disobedience" in protest against government austerity measures - saying workers and unions have a duty to stand and fight.
In a television interview he pledged to "fight all the way to the next election" and he said that no form of protest, including the prospect of a general strike, should be ruled out.
He told Sky News's Murnaghan programme that working people were being left "battered" by the Con-Dem government's savage kamikaze cuts and austerity agendas.
"The reality is that this government's policies are taking us on a path to poverty and we want to make certain that we give people confidence throughout our nations to be able to stand up and resist.
"That's the only thing you can do - it's called democracy.
"The oldest form of democracy is protest, civil disobedience, any form of resistance that makes this government take a step back and know there are millions and millions of ordinary working people in our nations who are not prepared to stand idly by and watch them destroy everything that we hold dear to us in our society."
He added: "When governments are acting in a way that is against ordinary working people we have a right, in fact we have a duty, to stand up and protest.
"Those protests will take all kinds of different forms - marches on streets, civil disobedience, industrial action. All of those should be used and none of them should be ruled out."
Mr McCluskey said unions should not be "cowering" at the prospect of taking on the government.
"Ordinary working people, who feel battered at the moment, attacked from all sides by this government, should have the bravery and the courage to stand together.
"This is no time for us, and certainly no time for trade union leaders, to be cowering in the corner.
"We've got to be proud of our values of fairness, of equality, of decency and justice. We have got to say very clearly to this government that we are going to fight you all the way to the next election."
Mr McCluskey called for a general strike last year.
At the big TUC rally in October in Hyde Park he won loud cheers - and blaring of vuvuzela horns - when he addressed the thousands.
"We won't get what we want simply by asking. There was a motion at the TUC to consult on a general strike," he said.
"We were asked to look at the practicalities and start a consultation.
"Well let's start the consultation today - are you prepared to strike?
"Let's have a vote."
And when the crowd put up a forest of hands he said: "I think that's carried."
Unite members and activists are currently in the process of nominating candidates and getting ready to vote in the forthcoming election for general secretary.
Mr McCluskey is standing for re-election.
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