The Labour leadership has reportedly written to the country’s trade unions urging them not to take any strike action before the general election.
The call for restraint comes in a letter – leaked to the Guardian newspaper – from the party chairman, Ian McCartney, to the organisation bringing together Labour affiliated unions, the Trade Union and Labour Party Liaison Organisation (Tulo).
The letter underlines government fears that strikes over pension cuts, especially in the public sector, could provoke a spate of damaging headlines.
The public sector union, Unison, is holding ballots in connection with claims that the deputy prime minister, John Prescott, is cutting pension entitlements. Similar strikes are possible in the NHS after proposed changes published this week.
According to the Guardian, McCartney’s letter, dated 20 December, to Tulo joint chairman Tony Dubbins, warned: “I should like to bring your attention to a number of headlines that emerged last week on the issue of threatened industrial action over pension reform in the public sector.
“I know you will agree with me that these issues are much better addressed through dialogue rather than confrontation, and I hope we can encourage an improved spirit of partnership over the crucial next few months.”