THEY may not have been speaking face-to-face yesterday but David Cameron and trade union leaders have put themselves on a collision course.
The major public spending cuts, which begin in earnest this year, are set to become a divisive issue for Britain.
The only thing which the Prime Minister and bosses of Britain’s unions had in common yesterday was the determination with which they set out their plans.
Mr Cameron insisted the country must stick to the course of tackling the deficit and making the economy less dependant on the state.
His tough-talking message was delivered to an audience of the world’s business leaders.
It would have been less well received by union leaders who met yesterday to co-ordinate their response to the programme of public spending cuts ahead. Unions say strikes are a last resort but the reality is that they are at the forefront of their minds.
The meeting this week was aimed at finding ways of making sure combined industrial action will cause as much damage as possible to the Government.
As town halls, hospitals and police chiefs announce job cuts it is to be expected that there will be both anger and opposition.
For people losing their jobs, George Osborne’s claim that those “with the broadest shoulders should bear the greatest burden” will seem particularly hollow.
However, before launching a wave of crippling strikes, unions must ask themselves what the likely consequences of such an act will be.
They will surely not force the Government to abandon its plan to tackle the deficit nor will they save jobs at local authorities whose hands are tied by budget cuts.
The only losers will be the members of the population, from school children to the elderly, who are dependent on the services these public sector workers provide.