In yesterday's elections, around 550 people in Swansea voted for the 4 Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition candidates in the 3 wards where we stood, Castle, Sketty and Gowerton. Even though Labour had not been in power in Swansea for 8 years before last night, leaving it able to portray itself as the anti-cuts party, already trade unionists and campaigners are drawing the conclusion that in order to fight the cuts they need an alternative. These hundreds of votes are the music of the future; Labour now has a dominant majority in Swansea and in councils across Wales; they have nowhere to hide from the key question: will they fight for their working class and trade unionist voters or will they pass on Tory cuts?
You only have to look at the 2 councils that were under Labour control in Wales before last night to see the likely answer to that question. Neath Port Talbot (NPT) and Rhondda Cynon Taff (RCT) were the pioneers of the threat and, in RCT's case, use of, the 188 notice to tear up national agreements on terms and conditions for local authority workers. Neighbouring NPT implemented a pay cut for its staff, scrapped a raft of allowances, in some case leading to cuts to take home pay for some of the lowest paid of upto 40% and, despite these savings from their own workforce, out-sourced and cut services.
With Labour in power and implementing the cuts it will be TUSC supporters that will be organising the fight back at a workplace, union branch and community level. TUSC is sinking deep roots in the trade union movement, across the UK and here in Wales; amongst the 14 TUSC candidates in Cardiff, Swansea and RCT that contested these elections, were elected representatives and activists from GMB, UNISON, UNITE and PCS, including the national Remploy trade union convenor, an organiser of the 'sparks' rank and file movement that defeated the employers plans to do away with national agreement on wages and conditions and the secretary of Swansea Trades Council. RMT branches in Wales voted to officially back TUSC in this election and. TUSC was backed in a personal capacity by 3 trade union general secretaries.
Trade unionists need a new mass party to represent us, the working class needs a new mass party to fight with us; the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition is helping to bring that about. The near 1,500 votes our candidates achieved in South Wales show there is a potential waiting to be tapped and the ability of our supporters to overcome obstacles to reach working class people with our programme. Before the next elections in Wales there will be major trade union struggles against the cuts, beginning with the strike action in defence of public sector pensions on May 10. TUSC supporters will be playing our part in organising for victory in those struggles and all the time we will be pointing to the need for a political party to fight alongside us. We've taken a big step forward in the last few weeks - let's build on that in the fight to oppose all cuts!