TUSC Fringe Meeting at Wales TUC

20th May 2013

Ronnie Job

There is a myth put out by the leaders of Labour-affiliated trade unions that the Welsh government is protecting Welsh workers from the worst of the cuts.

Yet as delegates gather for the Wales TUC (WTUC) Conference, communities are anxiously waiting to see if their local hospital's A&E is one of those marked for closure or downgrading as part of the South Wales Plan.

Since the Con-Dems came to power, 8,500 jobs have gone in Welsh local authorities, around 6% of the workforce.

But cuts in Wales have been back-loaded and there is a further 25,000 jobs at risk. The Welsh government's FE/HE Bill opens up Further Education in Wales to the risk of privatisation.

Welsh Labour councils pass resolutions against the Con-Dem government, while carrying through their cuts to services.

There is a lot of anger building up among trade unionists in Wales but it may not show itself at the WTUC conference because of the role of the general council, heavily influenced as it is by the big Labour-affiliated unions.

They have tried to prevent the growth of trade union opposition to the Welsh Labour government ever since the election of the Con-Dems.

This year's conference is only a one-day affair; they finally, at the third attempt, got it through conference last year to replace the annual three-day, resolution-based conference with a full conference only on alternate years.

In between, like this year, there is just a single-day event with complex rules on what can be the subject of a motion.

These rules are so restrictive that there are only five motions on the agenda for this conference. Two of these come from Swansea trades council.

Three times as many motions were ruled out of order. We can't debate a general strike because that is not a devolved issue.

The general council don't want action, they don't want demonstrations, particularly in Cardiff where it might imply criticism of the Welsh Labour government. Instead they propose having a bus to go around Wales calling on Welsh politicians to sign up to opposing the Westminster government cuts, while 'reluctantly' carrying them out of course!

This is just like the way Welsh Labour councils have passed resolutions condemning the bedroom tax, while refusing to offer any guarantee of 'no evictions' for its victims.

It seems that if rank and file trade unionists want to organise effective action against cuts to services, jobs and the NHS, they will have to come to the Welsh Shop Stewards Network, meeting in Cardiff on 8 June.

We also need a political alternative and the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition Wales will be holding a fringe meeting at the Wales TUC to outline a political alternative, one that involves fighting all cuts not just Tory ones.
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