By staff

A prominent union leader has called for mass civil disobedience across Britain ahead of the TUC conference.

Speaking to a range of media, Len McCluskey, Unite leader, offered a call to arms for union members and campaigners fighting spending cuts.

The comments come as thousands of trade unionists meet in London for the TUC conference today, with union leaders warning that union membership could drift into terminal decline unless a more robust response to the deficit reduction programme develops.

Calling for a "campaign of resistance" on the Andrew Marr show, Mr McCluskey refused to rule out any kind of action, from occupation to mass civil disobedience.

"Every conceivable form of protest and action should be carefully considered," he told the Observer.

"Everything should be considered in the face of the type of onslaught that we are looking at.

"The concept of protest is as old as democracy itself. We should looks at all forms of engagement. That is why we are involved in a coalition of resistance with church groups, with community organisations, with student organisations, with unemployed organisations, with senior citizens organisations."

Unite, Unison and the GMB general union are all planning to ballot members on strike action this week.

There will be particular focus on Ed Miliband's speech to the TUC on Tuesday, as analysts try to establish how far he is willing to distance himself from the unions.

Mr Miliband is particularly susceptible to allegations of union influence given that their votes clinched the leadership for him and that Unite is now Labour's biggest donor.

The Labour leader still plans to reduce union influence at the Labour conference later this month, however.