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Posted on 23 February 2010 at 10:46 GMT

Demonstration against Neath/Port Talbot local authority's threat to jobs 

Approximately 300 people attended a demonstration and rally held in Port Talbot, South Wales, on Saturday 20th February.

Welsh Unison member

Trade unionists from GMB, Unite and Unison and members of the public were present to protest at the proposed threat to jobs, services and terms and conditions by Neath/Port Talbot local authority.

Full time regional organiser for Unison Eddie Gabrielson told the rally that the demonstration that this was the start of the campaign.

Unfortunately the only practical proposal Eddie went on to make was that there would be another demonstration in Neath. Whilst this is to be welcomed what was lacking from Eddie and all others that spoke was a programme of action to defeat the cuts.

Eddie went onto tell the rally that councillors needed to understand what they were doing. Eddie omitted to tell the rally that it was the Labour cabinet of the council that had proposed the savage cuts - could it be that a Unison official was putting the link with Labour before being upfront with members? Where have we heard this before?

A politician's speech

Gwenda Thomas, Welsh Assembly Member for Neath and deputy minister for social services gave a politician's speech which didn't even amount to opposing the cuts. Not surprising really when the new Labour/Plaid led Welsh Assembley is behind the cuts.

A Plaid speaker laid the blame for the cuts on the Labour cabinet but she appeared to have selective memory loss when she forgot to mention the cuts Plaid have implemented when in control of local authorities in Wales.

There was a definate mood for fighting the cuts amongst demonstrators. Union members in Neath/Port Talbot are going to need to take action up to and including strike action if they are going to defeat the cuts, but they must not be left to fight alone.

United, collective and co-ordinated action needs to be organised throughout the region and nationally to defeat the cuts.

Need to link up

All public sector unions need to link up with each other and private sector unions. This needs to happen not just in words but in deeds. We need to put pressure on our respective union leaderships to do this. The turnout for this demo could have been a lot larger if unions like Unison had moblised for the demo.

Given the vicious attacks public sector workers face, it's time our union leaders walked the walk when it comes to mobilising members and leading members to defeat cuts.

Those present on the demo know who caused the crisis. What they wanted to hear was how to fight back. The Socialist Party offers the programme for fighting the cuts but also how to remove the cause the crisis - capitalism itself.

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Related links:

Neath:

triangleStrike at ABMU Health Board

triangleCrown Packaging Unite convener: "Fight to keep this plant open"

triangleWhat next for the NHS?

triangleOutsourced care workers fight to stop pay cuts

Port Talbot:

trianglePowerful picture of the Port Talbot steel workers' struggle

triangleThyssenKrupp - Tata steel merger

triangleTata pension deal: 'Gun to the head' offer accepted

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