20100913 strike uk 18
Public and commercial service's union members protest during a strike in Parliament Square in London, England. - 


STEVE CHIOTAKIS: When Greece began slashing its budget and raising taxes to cover its deficit, the country's workers went on strike and they rioted. That's not the sort of thing you'd expect to see in London. But as the U.K. grapples with budget cuts the unions don't like, they're calling for a widespread protests.

The BBC's Rebecca Singer reports.

REBECCA SINGER: The British government plans to cut $240 billion from its budget. But unions and workers don't think now's the right time to be doing it -- and they want to call a national strike in protest.

Thirty years ago dead bodies piled up in warehouses and rubbish lay uncollected on the streets when everyone from gravediggers and trash collectors went on strike to protest about pay freezes.

Brendan Barber is the general secretary of the TUC, which represents more than 6 million trade union members from all industries.

BRENDAN BARBER: It's going to hit hardest the weakest and most vulnerable in our society. We know those are going to be the consequences, whatever the details, the scale of the cuts that are going to be made are going is going to do huge damage.

The unions are calling for joint industrial action, like in the 1970s.

But government officials insist these cuts have to be made and blames their predecessors for leaving the country in such a mess.

In London, I'm the BBC's Rebecca Singer for Marketplace.