Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition Wales election launch

Every voter in Wales has the opportunity to vote for TUSC

South Wales West candidates

South Wales West candidates   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition’s (TUSC) Welsh parliament election campaign got off to a cracking start when over 70 attended the campaign launch meeting online on 8 April, many of them brand new to TUSC.

In just a few short weeks TUSC has succeeded in attracting enough new supporters to stand in all five regions of Wales for the first time, allowing every voter in the country to vote for a genuine socialist alternative to the main parties.

In contrast to the stale politicians of the establishment parties, it was a real meeting of the Welsh working class. Those parties’, lacklustre campaigns were outshone by this meeting brimming with enthusiasm. TUSC candidates from each region spoke as well as ordinary workers from the floor – nurses, hairdressers, council workers, social workers, teachers.

Ross Saunders, lead candidate in South Wales Central, asked: “Who was it that has kept society going during the pandemic? It wasn’t the CEOs, it was ordinary workers, council workers, NHS, supermarket workers and the rest”. As one worker in hairdressing explained: “We are all key workers – everyone wants their hair done”.

Mark Evans, lead candidate in South Wales West, explained: “We can tell there is an election because all the main parties are offering

visions of Wales as a land of milk and honey”, but behind the scenes they are preparing for more cuts. It’s not just the Tories; Labour in government and Plaid Cymru in the councils have both been complicit in austerity as well.

Michelle Francis from North Wales told the story of about her struggle in organising a rent strike at Bangor University for students who were trapped in their halls after being enticed by the Welsh government to come to university when face-to-face lectures were cancelled. She explained that the rent strike forced the Welsh government to find £40 million to allow some rebates on rents – a victory for the strikes.

But she warned now the universities were coming back with huge cuts to courses and job cuts to university workers, so students will have to get ready to fight alongside workers to defend courses and facilities. She called for an end to the universities being run as capitalist corporations in Wales and seeing students as income streams and numbers not as students.

Cammilla Mngaza, candidate in South Wales East, spoke passionately about the injustice to her daughter Siyanda, who was falsely imprisoned for defending herself against a racist attack, but also how she discovered how the whole system in Wales is corrupt. There are many other injustices in the system in Wales: “Labour has been in power in Wales for 22 years and yet these injustices still continue.”

Carys Phillips, chair of the Social Workers Union, explained how in her work she had encountered the effects of cuts carried out by Labour, Independent and Tory councils. She was gobsmacked that the government is offering public sector workers a pay freeze. But what is the Welsh Labour government doing about it? “Wales has suffered more from austerity than anywhere, not because we are Welsh but because we are poor.”

TUSC represents the best tradition of Welsh trade unionism, of unity to fight for the working class. Working people coming together to fight for a political solution to their problems and with solidarity for those in struggle.

This was exemplified by Beth Webster, a nurse in UHW hospital in Cardiff and candidate in South Wales Central, who was scathing of both the Tory UK government and the Labour Welsh government. The Tories insulted NHS workers by offering a 1% pay rise, but Welsh Labour is currently wasting tens of millions on agency nurses rather than investing in improving working conditions to ensure nurses are retained by the NHS.

She declared the campaign she is leading for a 15% pay rise will continue. But also that bursaries for student nurses should be increased to cover the cost of living while studying. Social care must be integrated with the NHS. If people value the NHS and the care sector they must vote TUSC on 6 May.

Ross Saunders summed up the meeting: “We are not powerless – the working class has enormous power. And after this election these politicians will say there is nothing we can do, we will just have to cut. But the students won £40 million by putting pressure on the universities and the wider working class can win as well.”

“The pandemic exposed the priorities of the ruling class and their Tory political representatives. They prioritise profits in the Covid crisis and lifted protections too early. But so too did the Welsh Labour governments and Welsh working-class areas suffered some of the worst death rates in the world. Covid has underlined why we need workers’ representatives in the Senedd to challenge the system.”

The full Senedd TUSC list candidates:

South Wales West

  • Mark Evans – Carmarthenshire council workers’ leader
  • Karen Gerrahty – Maesteg NHS occupational therapist
  • Gareth Bromhall – Secretary of Swansea Trades Union Council and care worker
  • Oisin Mullholland – Organiser of the rent strike at Swansea University
  • Charlie Wells – Swansea University organiser of Free Education campaign

South Wales Central

  • Ross Saunders – Organiser of Cardiff Against the Cuts and secretary of Socialist Party Wales
  • Beth Webster – Nurse at UHW hospital
  • Mia Hollsing – Cynon Valley campaigner against domestic violence
  • Kevin Gillen – Barry community activist

South Wales East

  • Mariam Kamish – Campaigner for an A&E at Ysbyty Ystrad Fawr
  • Cammilla Mngaza – Campaigning for justice for her daughter Siyanda Mngaza
  • Melanie Benedict – 18-year-old campaigner for youth rights
  • Dave Reid – Trade union activist

Mid and West Wales

  • Carys Phillips – Chair of the Social Workers Union

North Wales

  • Michelle Francis – Socialist Students and rent strike organiser at Bangor University