Wales TUC – Oppose all cuts!

Ronnie Job

This government’s programme of unrelenting austerity and cuts is already causing so much misery as the cull of jobs continues, services are destroyed and benefits are stolen. Yet the majority of cuts are still to come. Some commentators think that as little as only 10% of the planned cuts have been carried out.

But on 10 May, 400,000 striking public sector workers in PCS, UCU, Unite, RMT and Nipsa sent a warning to the government. More and more trade unionists are looking to coordinate their actions and to march and strike together.

Therefore this year’s Wales TUC conference takes place at a crucial point. This is reflected in the motions that have been submitted.

Regional pay

Maybe thinking they had already won on pensions, the government has now revealed the next phase of their attacks on public sector workers and the services they provide, with their proposals on regional pay.

Wales is a low-wage economy – these proposals threaten to take thousands of pounds out of the pockets of Welsh public sector workers and billions out of the Welsh economy.

Nearly a quarter of the policy motions submitted are on regional pay. On regional pay and pensions there is the opportunity to re-build a coalition of trade unions on the scale of the one that organised the strike action on 30 November.

Perhaps no other cut demonstrates the cruel nature of the government programme than the planned closure of seven of the nine Remploy factories in Wales, (36 across the UK). Remploy workers deserve and need the support of all trade unionists as the consultation period draws to an end.

Almost every motion on the agenda deals with organising to fight cuts and privatisation of public services. All motions rightly attack the Tory/Liberal Democrat coalition for austerity. But this conference can’t afford to let the link between some trade unions and Labour hamper the effectiveness of the Wales TUC in opposing cuts when they are passed on by a Labour Welsh government or Labour councils.

Health boards are facing having to make savings of 5% a year for the next three years, yet there is no criticism of the Assembly for the threat to health services that these cuts pose.

There are now majority Labour councils across Wales – will they pass on the cuts by attacking the terms and conditions of their workforces and cutting services?

Trade unionists in Wales need to send a clear message from this conference that we will oppose all cuts, no matter what party implements them.