Thursday, 27 January 2011

As England Splits, Wales Unites

The recent agreement between the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) and the public sector unions in relation to managing cuts, is a historic event.

This opinion is certainly not based on the actual substance of the document, which in all honesty is mostly agreeing not to agree. However, it is a national agreement between employer and employee that is something England is no longer capable of. The Local Government Association is supposed to represent both England and Wales, but is effectively an English organisation that 'allows' the WLGA to be part of it. It is Tory run and in the process of breaking up any meaningful national voice within England, of a Local Government employer. The LGA is gradually unravelling and it is not a case of if the WLGA will leave the LGA, but when.

This is why this weeks agreement is so important, because it shows that the 22 Local Authorities in Wales are prepared to maintain a single voice and work where they can with the public sector unions. One of the consequences of the split from the LGA will be the likelihood of separate pay negotiations in Wales. This is going to be a big challenge for all, especially with the continuing underfunding of Wales on a needs based formula and the temptation of politicians to shave off  salary increases to cover gaps in the budget. However, with further powers comes further responsibility and I believe that we have the ability as a nation to manage such responsibilities with common sense; particularly as the Tories will NEVER have a Welsh First Minister-well not in my lifetime anyway.

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