Lobby of Swansea Council Budget Meeting
28th February 2011Hundreds of public sector trade unionists and users of council services lobbied City & County of Swansea's budget setting meeting today (28th February). As well as cutting council services, the Council is proposing an all out assault on local authority workers' terms and conditions. Included in a raft of 30+ proposed changes are reducing annual leave to 28 days, including all bank holidays and other closure days and not paying sick pay for the first 3 days of any sickness absence. It was no surprise then that members of all the local authority trade unions turned out in force.
Opportunistically Labour party speakers, including the leader of the Labour Group on the Council and the local MP, used the fact that Swansea is led by the Liberal Democrats to portray Labour as the defender of local authority workers when Labour Rhondda Cynon Taff has just used the weapon of 188 notices to try to force its workforce into signing new contracts and Labour Neath & Port Talbot used the threat of the same to bully their workforce into accepting an average 2% pay cut.
Speakers from GMB, UNISON and UNITE all urged those on the lobby to join the protest at the Tory and Liberal Democrat conferences next Saturday in Cardiff, as well as the TUC 26th March demonstration in London. These demonstrations have the potential to be impressive shows of force on the part of the trade union movement but from them, there needs to be a clear explanation of why co-ordinated industrial action is needed; the only way that local authorities, like Swansea, can be forced to back down in their destruction of services and attacks on members' terms and conditions.
Ronnie Job, UNISON steward (personal capacity)