Wales TUC Conference - A Missed Opportunity

31st May 2013

Andrew Price, Cardiff Trades Council conference delegate

Wales TUC conference used to be an annual event lasting three days. Recently it was decided, wrongly, to reduce the conference to a two-yearly event, with a one-day conference organised in the interim. The interim conference met on 22 May in Cardiff.

This interim conference was given a very narrow remit, only being allowed to discuss motions on matters devolved to the National Assembly for Wales.

This enabled the Standing Orders Committee to rule out 15 motions submitted by affiliated organisations leaving only five motions and amendments.

All of this nonsense comes at a time when the working class throughout Wales faces an unprecedented attack from the Con-Dem coalition government.

Rather than submitting motions for democratic discussion, followed by a vote, the Wales TUC General Council issued statements that were both divisive and inadequate.

Hence the statement on austerity concentrated more fire on 'narrow political groups with megaphones' than on the Tories.

It proposed a bus touring Wales persuading MPs and Assembly Members to oppose austerity rather than mobilising workers to take the strike action necessary to defeat the Tories and their allies!

The one motion to offer a correct strategy in the face of cuts and attacks was from Swansea Trades Council.

It opposed the NHS cuts being introduced by the Labour-controlled Welsh Assembly but was subjected to a brutal and undemocratic counter-attack from its opponents.

This involved a statement of opposition being made by the General Council before the motion had been moved or seconded followed by a phalanx of right-wing trade union officials taking to the rostrum to denounce it.

All of this led to the motion's inevitable defeat, although to their great credit the motion was supported by PCS, RMT, UCU unions and a number of Trades Councils.

However, positive motions were passed against the bedroom tax, on Further Education and on blacklisting.

It is now necessary for every Welsh trade union activist to ensure that the General Council does what these motions called for.

The Welsh working class probably suffers more from austerity than its counterparts elsewhere in the UK yet its leaders are tied to a hopelessly inadequate policy of 'partnership' with the Labour-controlled National Assembly- a body with no inclination to confront Tory cuts.

But at rank and file level there is the potential for change - witnessed by the recent successful launch of Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) in Wales, coupled with a successful fringe meeting at this conference, and by the growth in support for the Welsh Shop Stewards Network.

From these forces a new leadership must be forged that will reject the cowardly politics of compromise and collaboration giving the entire Welsh working class a leadership it deserves.
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