Monday, 19 July 2010

'Bullying' Labour council denounced by Unison

Plaid Cymru councillor Alun Llewelyn has today released an internal Unison document that denounces Labour councillors in Neath Port Talbot as bullies. The notice is a report from Unison’s UK-wide National Labour Link forum on July 2. In it the forum, which is responsible for the links between the Labour party and Unison, accuses the Labour-run council of bullying and calls on all Labour elected members to condemn the actions of Neath Port Talbot CBC.

Unison is one of the Labour party’s strongest supporters within the union movement and has donated over £1.75m to the Labour party since January 2009. The reason that the Labour-supporting faction within Unison is so irate is that Neath Port Talbot council has unilaterally decided to “dismiss over 7,000 employees and re-employ them on lower terms, conditions and wages as well as out sourcing 750 to 1,000 job with further cuts to come later.”

The motion is scathing in its criticism of the Labour-run council’s actions, saying:

 “This forum deplores such bullying tactics and calls on al Labour councillors, Labour members of Parliament, Welsh Labour AMs and Labour SMPs to condemn the action of Neath Prot Talbot CBC.”

Plaid Cymru’s Deputy Leader of the Opposition on Neath Port Talbot Council Alun Llewelyn condemned the way that the Labour council has acted:

“Because of the way that the Labour Party and Gordon Brown acted over the last 13 years there is a massive national debt and councils, like everyone else, are going to have to make cuts. I accept that difficult decisions are going to have to be made. But we should work together to make these decisions with politicians, unions and management cooperating to provide the best possible service and to keep redundancies down to a bare minimum.

“The Labour group in the council seems to take pride in the way they are taking on the Union. When the new budget first came to council Plaid proposed that all possible efforts be made to avoid compulsory redundancies. This was refused by the Labour group. Since then they have publicly threatened all staff with dismissal and reemployment on poorer terms and condition.
“I call on the council to come to its senses now and negotiate properly with the union. If they don’t there are serious risks that council staff morale will fall even further and that relations between staff and the council will be destroyed, that would be a disaster for the people of Neath Port Talbot.”

Here is the motion in full:

Friday 2nd July the following motion was passed by the National Labour Link Forum:

This Forum notes the situation at Neath Port Talbot County BC which is a Labour controlled council. As a result of the budget crisis, the Council has served notice on 25th June and received on the 28th June 2010 to UNISON and other Trade Unions that they intend unilaterally to dismiss over 7,000 employees and re-employ them on lower terms, conditions and wages as well as out sourcing 750 to 1,000 job with further cuts to come later.

This forum deplores such bullying tactics and calls on al Labour councillors, Labour members of Parliament, Welsh Labour AMs and Labour SMPs to condemn the action of Neath Prot Talbot CBC.
Further this Forum calls on all Labour councillors, particularly those who are also UNISON members to oppose similar future moves in all local authorities.
Please lobby your AMs MPs and councillors to deplore this terrible action.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Unions Struggle with Devolution

After 11 years of devolved Government in Wales, the trade union movement is I'm afraid falling well short of understanding what it's all about.

What has not been grasped by most unions is that as a result of having a Welsh Government, their Welsh members need and deserve additional recourses in order to have an effective voice in the Senedd. Some unions (particularly the teaching unions) have responded in a more constructive manner and in doing so, are having a lot of success in influencing policy. However, let's look at the 3 big unions to see what difference they have made.


The GMB do not even recognise Wales as a 'region', yet alone a nation-they put Wales in with South West England and call in the 'South West Region'. Their approach to consultation with the Assembly is to talk to the Labour group and no-one else, whoever is in power. Many of their members work in the public sector where most areas are devolved. Consequently, many issues relating to SW England are irrelevant to Wales. Their commitment to the Welsh language is errrrrrrrr.


In fairness to Unite, they do have a 'Wales Region' and a more recognised Welsh structure. As the largest union in the UK, they should be the most influential in Cardiff Bay but again, they appear to believe that just consulting the Labour group is sufficient. Their commitment to the Welsh language is errrrrrrrr.


Unison has the biggest set-up as a 'Welsh region' and does actually lobby beyond the Labour Assembly group, although not with any consistency. They are again in a position of significant influence as the largest public sector union in Wales, but are still to significantly tap into this potential. Their commitment to the Welsh language is improving and they are the only non-teaching union to consistently support the Eisteddfod and produce bilingual literature. However, as with all UK unions, they do not see it as an equality issue and so bilingual services to members do not really exist.

These three unions make up the vast majority of the Welsh trade union membership and so their attitude to devolution matters. It is very worrying that at a time when we face a ConDem British Government determined to shrink the size of the state, that a devolved Government prepared to stand up for the public sector has to work with trade unions who have yet to grasp their true potential in a devolved Wales. After 11 years of opportunities to change, there are no excuses for the mail trade unions to be so sceptical about having a stronger Welsh voice.

North Wales Against Cuts campaign launched

In anticipation of the ConDem cuts being imposed on the public services, a new campaign has been launched by trade unionists and community campaigners in the north.

North Wales Against Cuts looks to unite everyone - whether public sector workers or those who use those public services - against the cutbacks that Cameron and Clegg are promising to deliver for Wales.

They have already produced a tabloid-style news-sheet with hard-hitting arguments as well as planning a large public meeting on September 27 in Wrecsam's Lager Club. Leanne Wood AM has already confirmed her attendance and we're awaiting confirmation from Mark Serwotka of the PCS and Bob Crow (RMT). Local campaigners will also be speaking.

Join their Facebook group and keep in touch with the campaign.

Here's some of their mission statement:

You may be employed in local government, healthcare, emergency services, or one of the many hundreds of jobs covered by term 'public sector'. You may be unemployed and on benefits; self employed; in receipt of state pension or facing redundancy. No one is safe and everyone will be affected if public sector jobs are cut. Private contractors rely on the public sector for work. 
We all hate paying taxes but it is our weekly or monthly contributions that provide those services we all need. Schools for our children; healthcare; care for our parents and grandparents; police, fire and rescue services; local council services etc. Public sector workers are employed to provide all these services and more. 
They live and work in our communities, contribute to the local economy and face the same problems as their neighbours. We are all victims of the economic crisis and will suffer equally if these cuts are allowed to go ahead. It is not a matter of well-paid civil servants or local government officers raking in cash while everyone else pays the price. 
The only people in this position are those high up in Whitehall and their friends in the banks who have repeatedly used and abused the ordinary man or woman in the street. They have taken us for fools and we are paying for the privilege by losing our jobs, our houses and our self respect. 
We say enough is enough. In this country we have £123 billion of uncollected tax through tax avoidance or tax evasion by the rich and super rich (including those in the Cabinet). It is economic suicide to reduce the number of people responsible for collecting these outstanding taxes. 
Those of us who have lost our jobs will face long delays before we receive benefits if there aren't enough staff in the Benefit Offices to process the claims or enough money in the budget to pay them. 
If you are able to look beyond the lies of the ConDem government (and remember that Labour also wanted to make drastic cuts) and want to do something to save our public services then please join North Wales Against Cuts. 

The budget showed the ConDem Government’s plans to deal with the recession the banks and big business caused, by attacking ordinary working-class people. The cuts announced will devastate public services, with 60,000 jobs to go in Wales alone. This will affect us all as people are thrown out of work, have no money to spend, affecting demand and therefore putting private sector workers in manufacturing and shops out of work. 
Pay freezes, cuts in benefits and an increase in VAT means all workers are worse off. Some extremists will blame immigration, it isn’t immigrants that are doing in this but the usual suspects - bosses, bankers and MPs. Let’s put the blame squarely where it belongs. We have more in common with a Polish worker than we do with multi-millionaire public schoolboy David Cameron. 
These cuts doesn’t affect the millionaire toffs in Parliament: THEY evade tax (which we have to pay) THEY claim fraudulent expenses and get away with it, pay themselves massive bonuses , their greed knows no bounds… Now THEY want US to pay for it all. 
We say enough is enough, time to resist and fight back. We need a massive demonstration soon of all union members, community groups, all who are hit by the cuts. We need strike action to protect our pay and conditions, local action to defend communities. 
What can you do? 
• Join a fighting campaigning union 
• Get active in a community group against local cuts 
• Set up an unemployed workers’ group 
• Make your AM and MP know how you feel, make them uncomfortable 
• Same with your boss - strike, go slow, work to rule. 
We have to unite and fight, history shows that we win when we stick together as a class. This shower in London is a coalition of millionaires and hangers-on, it is vulnerable and can be defeated. 

Don’t make the victims pay for this economic crisis 
If you were burgled, how would you feel about having to pay the thief? That’s what’s happening to ordinary people after the bankers robbed us blind in their money-making spree of the last decade. We’ve had to bail them out and now we’re expected to pay with pay freezes, tax rises, cuts in services and job losses. That’s not on! 
North Wales Against Cuts is an independent group of trade unionists and campaigners that want to unite everyone locally against the coming cuts. Get in touch: or 07747 792 441 or join our Facebook group NORTH WALES AGAINST CUTS. 

Come to our public meeting

All welcome: 
Monday, September 27 @ 7.30pm 
Wrexham Lager Social Club