Socialist Party
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8 December 2010

'We need fighting unions to halt cuts'

NEATH AND Port Talbot local authority has reached an agreement with the majority of unions, including Unison, representing its 7,000 workforce on implementing massive cuts.

Socialist Party members in Unison

The deal confirms what Unison Socialist Party members have been predicting and many activists have feared, that Unison's leadership, with some exceptions, is prepared to concession bargain away hard fought for terms and conditions in the forlorn hope that this will protect jobs.

The agreement includes a pay cut for most staff of up to 2% on top of a three-year pay freeze already announced, reductions in unsocial hours and overtime payment and this is just the start.

Instead of providing leadership and opposing these cuts massive concessions on terms and conditions are conceded without a fight. This will give the green light to local authority employers to go for gold.

Whilst the phrase 'dented shield' has not been used by the union bureaucracy in Wales and nationally, this is their policy in all but name. Concede on terms and conditions, batten down the hatches and wait for the New Labour knight in shining armour to arrive to save the day.

Aside from the fact that New Labour before the general election was planning a similar attack on the public sector, our members can't wait five years for a reprieve.

Neath and Port Talbot is a Labour council which threatened to sack the whole workforce. We need union leaders that will stand up to the employer, the Welsh Assembly and the Con-Dem government.

The cuts to terms and conditions in Neath and Port Talbot, massive though they are, will not protect jobs. In many areas of Wales anti-cuts campaigns have been set up to organise the fightback. The students have shown the way in fighting back. We need to link with students, other unions and community campaigns to build a campaign that will defeat the cuts.