Highs and Lows of Wales TUC Conference

23rd May 2013

"If I had balls, that would have felt like I had been kicked in them!" This was one female,  first-time delegate's assessment of the WTUC conference, after Swansea Trades Council's motion calling for the WTUC to lead a fight against NHS cuts was voted down.

Another delegate was similarly impressed with the debate on fighting NHS cuts, RMT President, Peter Pinkney, was told to "calm down" and not to get angry at the General Council's recommendation to oppose the motion on fighting NHS cuts.

UNISON Cymru Convenor, Peter Crews, responding to the NHS motion on behalf of the General Council, "..we're opposing this motion because it would commit the Wales TUC to opposing all NHS cuts in Wales.." Yes, that's kind of the point!

There was no standing ovation for Labour Welsh First Minister, Carwyn Jones, at Wales TUC Conference, a first for a Welsh Labour leader as far as I can remember (I've had people shout "get up for our leader" at me before now).

The First Minister's speech was pushed up the conference agenda so he could make a speedy exit and get back to the Senedd, as the Welsh Government got ready to reveal the South Wales Plan and which hospital services they plan to cut across the region.

"There is no room for privatisation of public services across Wales". These were the well-received words of Labour First Minister, Carwyn Jones to the Wales TUC. Less than 2 hours later Conference was passing Motion 3 from Swansea Trades Council, against the Welsh Government's proposed FE/HE Bill, which proposes.. reclassifying Welsh FE colleges as no longer being 'public sector' bodies and allowing them  to dissolve themselves and transfer their assets to limited companies. Er isn't that privatisation Carwyn?

Ever played 'bullshit bingo'? It's a way of getting through long meetings - each player has a different bingo-card list of management-speak phrases to cross off until the winner get's a line. Listening to Labour First Minister, Carwyn Jones, address the Wales TUC I could have scored a full-house of the sort of phrases you regularly hear from managers in any workplace softening up workers for cuts.. "difficult decisions", "partnership", "mitigate", "prioritise", "modernise", "transform". No worker is ever taken in by these sorts of words from their boss but the leadership of the Wales TUC buys every single one. How else can you explain the line, in the General Council statement on Public Services, that the Wales TUC "..broadly agrees with the general direction of travel of the Health Boards"? That would be the direction of travel that includes £660 million of cuts to health services in Wales over 3 years.

Speaking on, the General Council statement on the Welsh Economy, Alec Thraves congratulated the authors of the report, "Towards a Welsh Industrial Strategy"  for their detailed analysis of the depth of the crisis but pointed out the failings in the conclusions drawn by the General Council. "You can't fix the Welsh economy with a few extra windmills, some co-operatives and a couple of farmers' markets!" Alec then called for the "dying patient", capitalism, to be replaced by a democratic, socialist plan.
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