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Posted on 18 April 2011 at 11:20 GMT

Wales Shop Stewards Network sets up an anti-cuts committee

A Swansea trade unionist

A Wales Shop Stewards Network (WSSN) conference of trade unionists and campaigners fighting the cuts has agreed to set up a Wales anti-cuts committee.

This event was particularly important as the Wales TUC is not holding a conference this year, so won't be providing an opportunity for trade unionists to come together in Wales to discuss the strategy to fight the cuts.

The conference took place in Cardiff on Saturday 16 April and was attended by over 70 representatives.

ITV Wales news covered the conference and reported in its main news item that night: "Leading trade unionists in Wales supported the call for a 24 hour general strike", no doubt causing the Wales TUC leaders to choke on their teas!

Speakers emphasised the need for opposition to all the cuts and to organise coordinated resistance including a 24-hour public sector general strike. PCS national vice president John McInally said the turnout of up to 700,000 people on the 26 March TUC demo had frightened the government but also the right-wing leaders of the TUC and Labour Party.

If the movement allows the cuts to happen and waits for the return of a Labour government there would be nothing left. He said: "We must ballot for widespread coordinated industrial action and not just in the public sector.

The left in the unions must articulate a clear 'no cuts' strategy based on an alternative and must organise within our unions". Representatives spoke of the need to fight against attacks wherever they come from, including the threat by Rhondda Cynon Taff and Neath Port Talbot councils to sack all their workers if they did not accept dramatic cuts in their pay and conditions.

There was a warm welcome for PJ McParlin who will be taking over as national chair of the Prison Officers Association and the new Wales and South West NEC member John Hancock who spoke of their fight against privatisation and for a publicly owned and run prison system which could rehabilitate prisoners.

There was a good discussion about national campaigning issues with input from speakers from UCU, NUT and PCS about the plans to work together to build coordinated industrial action.

It was also clear that the WSSN can do a lot to enthuse and inspire shop stewards across all the public sector unions to demand support for action against the assault on our pensions alongside those unions which are already planning action.

With the government's attack on welfare benefits and equality and health and safety legislation then it is clear that we also need to be demanding job creation and real jobs on real wages for all.

Les Woodward, GMB Remploy convenor, gave an impassioned speech about how members in Swansea Remploy will fight for a future and stand alongside any trade unionists taking action in Wales against the cuts.

The conference gave out the enthusiastic and confident message that there are more of 'us' than 'them'. We will help build on the fantastic turnout on 26 March to support anti-cuts campaigning across Wales.

This anti-cuts conference made it clear that we won't let politicians off the hook as we will put demands on all of them that they should fight for the full funding that Wales needs and not wield the axe on behalf of the Con-Dem government on vital jobs and services in our communities.

A steering committee of six was elected to set up the Wales anti-cuts committee and it was also agreed to build support for the May Day march against cuts organised by Swansea Trades Council on 30 April and the Aberystwyth anti-cuts demonstration organised by Ceredigion Against the Cuts on 7 May.

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