Tuesday, 6 April 2010
May 6th - A Day of Destiny for the Unions?
This election campaign will involve the trade union movement like never before - and all for negative reasons. The Tories will do all they can to paint the current situation as the 1970's re-visited and are already lining up more anti-trade union legislation if they get in. Labour are relying like never before on the main unions to get their core vote out. I anticipate receiving a lot from my union over the coming weeks, even though I am not affiliated (as far as I know!). Unison's policy priorities match Plaid's far more than Labour's, but then they invariably do. Far be it for me to suggest that party politics are getting in the way of members' interests. The Lib Dems will sail very close to the Tory line on unions, as their focus groups are screaming at them to keep to the right-where their leader Clegg feels more comfortable.
The public sector unions have most to lose after May 6th, with all parties threatening cuts and job losses. Even the Lib Dems 'Shadow Shadow' Chancellor Vince Cable has threatened to ban unions from striking in 'essential service areas'. He declined to define what he meant by these. The main threat though is from the Tories. The UK already has the most tightly controlled trade unions in any Western democracy, yet Cameron and co. intend to tighten things further. Did you know that the US has far less stringent trade union legislation that the UK?
All in all, it is not going to be good for unions, whatever the result. Plaid will use its additional seats in a likely hung Parliament to fight for fair funding; giving some level of protection to core public services. It may not sound a lot, but it's a lot more than the British parties are offering Wales.