As I publish this blog article, the start of a huge campaign to defend the very existence of the public sector pensions has started. The trade unions taking part in Thursday's industrial action are not doing so to play politics. Many of these trade union members have never taken strike action in their lives, and their unions are not affiliated to Labour. This is about defending their future; a future with a dignified retirement instead of a poorer one. Is that really unreasonable to stand up for?
I am proud that my party will on the first strike day, refuse to cross a picket line either at the seat of the Welsh or British Government. It is admitedly no more than a gesture but an important one, as we will be the only party represented in Wales to do so. Needless to say, the Tories and Libs will happily hop and skip over the picket lines, safe in the knowledge that all the media attention will be turned on Labour MPs. I will be interested to see how many Welsh Labour MPs will cross the PCS picket line tomorrow, just a year after sucking up to the trade union movement to fund their re-election.
I hope that the action tomorrow is successful and that there is a marked change in the attitude of the British Government to the public sector, but what really concerns me is the ability of the Labour party to so blatantly ignore their core support, in an embarrassing attempt to win over the Tory soft vote that they need, to win back Middle England. The Plaid leadership have made their position clear in the statement below, so please feel free to compare it to Red Ed's thoughts on this matter.
The UK government’s ill-thought-out actions could threaten the very future of the public sector pension scheme according to Plaid Cymru.
The party said that proposed changes to the scheme are in danger of undermining efforts to attract new members, cutting off essential income for the scheme in future years. Plaid Cymru AMs and MPs have expressed their support for public sector workers protesting against the level of cuts to public sector finances including the threat to workers’ pension funds. Civil Servants and teaching unions will hold a full day’s strike action on Thursday (30/6/2011).
Plaid Cymru Leader Ieuan Wyn Jones AM said:-
“The scale of the cuts announced has clearly not been thought through by the Conservative and Lib Dem Coalition in Westminster. But to target public sector pension funds is a cynical move which will punish ordinary working people for the sins of the financial sector in the City of London.
“The UK government’s plans could undermine the existence of public sector pension schemes, by eroding the incentive for workers to join it. Such a prospect is extremely concerning for workers throughout the public sector.
“In Wales, our teachers and other public sector workers are being threatened by decisions that still lie in the hands of the UK government. Pay and conditions should be the responsibility of the Welsh government, so that the people of Wales can hold the government to account for decision made about these issues.”
Plaid Cymru MPs have all lent their support to a parliamentary EDM supporting the protest.
Plaid Cymru’s Hywel Williams MP said:-
“In Plaid Cymru we support the right of committed public sector employees to withdraw their labour in industrial action if their working terms and conditions are being undermined without agreement.
“Public sector workers traditionally earn far less than colleagues in the private sector, and an adequate pension is a key element in enticing high quality individuals into professions like teaching, when they could earn far more in other sectors of the economy.”