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From The Socialist newspaper, 1 November 2007

Wales shop stewards' network conference

About 50 shop stewards and union reps from all over Wales gathered in Cardiff for the founding conference of the Wales Shop Stewards' Network. Everyone who attended was enthused by the conference and supported further initiatives.

Dave Reid

Ramon Corria, secretary of Cardiff trades council and member of the Wales TUC executive, admitted that he approached the conference with a bit of scepticism but it had shown what a massive role the network could play in Wales.

Bernard Roome from the Communication Workers' Union (CWU) summed up the conference for everyone when he declared "it's been a brilliant conference and I am pleased to have attended".

In contrast to the Wales TUC conference, all the struggles of trade unions in Wales were reflected at the conference. It provided a real forum to discuss the struggles of trade unionists in Wales.

Amarjite Singh, secretary of the South East Wales AMAL branch brought greetings from CWU members involved in the postal dispute. Reflecting on the consultation of members before branch recommendations on the current offer accepted by the executive, he said: "Branches will have to consult, but all I want to say is I don't want to sell my members down the swanee."

John McInally from the national executive of the civil service union PCS, warned that one third of civil service jobs in Wales are due to go by 2010. The PCS has shown that determined industrial action works in blunting the attacks of the government but also that one union on its own cannot succeed in stopping the attacks.

United public-sector action on pay is necessary to halt the government in its tracks. The TUC should be co-ordinating action, calling a day of action and a national demonstration.

The Labour Party however is irredeemable. John said he was sick of hearing trade union leaders saying their job was to get a Labour government re-elected: "No your job is to represent your members".

Peter McParlin brought greetings from the Prison Officers Association (POA) that recently shook the government with its 'illegal' one-day strike action, the union's first national strike. He thanked all trade unionists who supported their action.

Peter said his union had shown how to treat Tory anti-union laws with contempt. POA leaders are prepared to go to prison.

Jack Straw, the New Labour minister for "Justice" told POA leaders: "After we have dealt with the postal workers I have a cell ready for you".

Peter pledged a commitment for the POA to attend all meetings of the Shop Stewards' Network.

Steven Skelly, secretary of the RMT regional council, brought greetings from the RMT rail and transport union and pledged union support for future events. He showed how events and the disgraceful record of the TUC leadership had politicised the RMT.

Andrew Price (national executive University and College Union) pointed out the increasing political nature of the struggles workers were involved in.

"For 18 years our members came under attack from the Tories who called themselves Tories. Now for ten years we have come under attack from Tories who call themselves New Labour".

Ramon Corria called for all union members in Wales to campaign in their union to prevent the Wales TUC leadership from reducing the Wales TUC conference to every two years.

The leadership said it was tired of discussing the same motions every year: "Well then, move motions relevant to the needs of your members".

A full report of the conference can be found at

Scotland shop stewards' conference: Saturday 1 December, 11am-5pm. Quality Central Hotel, Hope Street, Glasgow.

  • East and West Midlands: Saturday 24 November, Birmingham.
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