May Day in South West Wales

2nd May 2011

Socialist Party members and supporters in South West Wales are exhausted but enthusiastic after the Bank ‘holiday’ weekend!

On the Thursday evening before the Royal Wedding we participated in a successful TUSC election public meeting in Swansea where Ronnie Job, lead candidate for South Wales West addressed supporters from across the region.

Ronnie said ‘The Assembly was only delaying the cuts until the election was out of the way and Assembly members have been leaning on union leaders and labour councillors not to rock the boat’. Ronnie pointed out that the Welsh Assembly Government should set a needs budget and refuse to carry out the ConDem cuts which amount to £1.8bn between now and 2015 and could also campaign to get back the £300ml a year that Wales is robbed of under the unfair Barnett Formula for allocating Government funding.

The public meeting enthusiastically supported the opposition to all cuts and discussed how TUSC could take forward building unity and paving the way for a new workers party.

On the Friday it was an early departure to the SP’s ‘Royal Wedding Escape Party’ at Pembrey Country Park which attracted over 40 members and supporters. Getting there for 10am to put up our red flags meant we didn’t have the chance to see even a page boy let alone the star attraction and their hangers on.

We celebrated a day off with burgers and bangers, football (still aching), music (see our special Royal Wedding song) and a few cans! The kids had a great time and were presented with SP commemorative mugs, red flag included, and sweets so they can remember their ‘Escape Party’ day out in sunny Pembrey. As a bonus we also collected £200 and after expenses it meant £120 for our fighting fund!

After an exhausting day out it was back to prepare for our May Day rallies the following day in both Llanelli and Swansea, where SP members play a prominent role.

On Saturday the Swansea March and Rally had around 300 demonstrating against the ConDem cuts with all the main unions represented. SP members, Katrine Williams (PCS Wales Chair), Les Woodward (GMB Remploy Convener) and Ronnie Job (Trades Council Secretary & TUSC candidate) undoubtedly had the best response at the rally with Kartrine receiving a big applause for her call for the unions who marched together on March 26th to now strike together on June 30th.

Les, when commenting on the disgraceful trade union ‘memorandum of understanding’ in Wales which gives concessions to local government employers, responded by saying the only memorandum of understanding his members wanted was that if the employer attacks us we should stand up and fight back!

Ronnie summed up the rally with an inspiring speech calling on all trade unionists to pressurise their leaders to take coordinated strike action as the only way to stop the cuts. This call was met with rapturous applause from the audience but the expression on the faces of some of the trade union leaders present just highlights that this will have to be fought for vigorously.

Meanwhile in Llanelli over 40 trade unionists and political activists attended the Llanelli against the Cuts May Day Rally, organised by Llanelli Trades Council. Despite the attempts of New Labour and Plaid Cymru to try and use the event as a Welsh Assembly Election platform, the rally in the town centre heard local trade unionists from PCS, Unison, Unite, NUJ and NUT calling on the Welsh Assembly Government and local councils to oppose ALL cuts.

Socialist Party members Mark Evans, branch sec of Carmarthenshire Unison and Dave Warren, branch organiser for PCS in the DVLA stressed the demand for a ‘needs budget’ to be set in Wales and also pointed to the £123bn of uncollected taxes of the super rich which could pay off the national debt!

After a brief break on Saturday afternoon it was back to preparing for the TUSC campaigning on Sunday and the final run up to Thursday’s Welsh Assembly Elections!

A great few days which lifted the profile of the Socialist Party again in South West Wales, attracted a number of potential members, raised fighting fund and saw dozens of copies of the Socialist sold.

Not a bad Bank ‘holiday’ break!

Alec Thraves.
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