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From The Socialist newspaper, 9 December 2020

Welsh trades councils rally against the pay-freeze

Swansea protest

Swansea protest   (Click to enlarge)

Gareth Bromhall, (acting) secretary, Swansea and District Trades Council

Following the recent spending review announcement, Swansea and District Trades Council called a socially distanced rally in the city centre on Saturday 5 December. The event drew together socialists, trade unionists and activists from across the city and the surrounding area. Socialist Party members in Swansea had been campaigning in the week leading up to the rally, holding three campaign stalls and selling 80 copies of the Socialist.

At the event, speakers from several unions, surrounded by banners and a crowd of around 30, called on the Tory government, and their enablers in the Labour-led Senedd (Welsh parliament), to put an end to the public sector pay freeze. Speakers spoke in support of the NHS workers' demand for a 15% pay rise, for nationalisation to prevent looming job losses, and called for trade union leaders, along with the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and Wales TUC, to organise the action needed to achieve this.

There were also calls for a new workers' party. This call, along with our Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition banner, got a warm reception from those present.

It was explained that the event, like the one called by Cardiff Trades Union Council taking place at the same time, were only the start of a campaign. That trades councils will campaign for wider support, and continue to put pressure on the TUC to take action.

Cardiff Trades Union Council also held a loud protest against the government's public sector pay freeze outside Cardiff Castle, that blared out its message to shoppers in the city centre. Workers representing eight unions took part in a socially distanced rally, with speakers from PCS, Unite, UCU and Unison.

Katrine Williams, president of Cardiff Trades Council and a PCS Wales committee member, said that public sector workers would not pay for yet another crisis made worse by the Tories: "It is us who have kept the country going through the crisis."

A message of support was passed on from British Airways Maintenance Cardiff Unite stewards, who were unable to attend because they are isolating. They have faced wage cuts of up to 3,000 as British Airways attempted to impose savage cuts on its workforce, threatening to sack the entire workforce and re-employ them with significant pay cuts. John Williams, a bar worker from Unite, demanded work or full pay for hospitality workers in Wales, many of whom are losing pay and their jobs (see also page 4).

Renata Medeiros from Cardiff University UCU reported that the union is balloting for strike action over the lack of safety cover for university workers. She said universities are run like corporations, and both staff and students are being put in unsafe conditions.

The Tories have tried to divide public and private sector workers, but the message from both sets of workers was the same - don't cut our wages, we refuse to pay the price for the crisis!

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
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In The Socialist 9 December 2020:


Fund NHS, not Tory crony contracts

Covid vaccines only first step - fight job losses, austerity and 'virus' of capitalism

High street jobs, safety and pay: We have to fight

Super-rich tax evasion costs 34 million nurses worldwide

Luxury for some, poverty for the rest of us

What we think

Should Corbyn stand for London Mayor?

Workplace news

RMT gen sec election - vote for Steve Hedley

Further education workers win pay rise in Wales

HMRC pay talks - PCS needs to organise members now

Reinstate sacked Unite London bus rep Judith Katera

South London council workers vote to strike

International news

Right populism after Trump

Malaysia: Massive capitalist exploitation of migrant workers exposed by Covid pandemic

International news in brief


Engels and the answer to the housing question

Campaigns news

Welsh trades councils rally against the pay-freeze

Why I joined the Socialist Party

Tenants and workers unite to take on landlords

'Oxford, Cut the Rent!' campaign kicks off

York students determined to build for rent refunds and free education

London Socialist Party hits the streets

Readers' opinion

TV review: Red, White and Blue

The Socialist Inbox


Obituary: Roger Priest


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