Swansea needs councillors who vote against cuts! No to austerity - vote Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC).

Don’t waste the opportunity to send a clear ‘no more cuts’ message by voting for Ronnie Job, TUSC: the only no-cuts, socialist candidate in Swansea West in the 2015 General Election!

Thursday, 14 November 2013

How serious was Labour about scrapping the Bedroom Tax?

The news that Swansea's 2 MPs were among 47 Labour MPS who did not vote in the debate on the Bedroom Tax, tabled by their own party, and the suggestion that Labour MPs didn't vote because they were 'paired' with Tory counterparts in a gentlemen's agreement, prompted me to send this letter of protest to local publications and news programmes..

Dear Sir,
I note that Swansea's two MPs, Geraint Davies and Sian James, were among the 47 Labour MPs who didn't vote on their party's motion to immediately scrap the Bedroom Tax.

I don't know what reasons the two had for not participating in the vote and it may be they had good reasons not to be there. Having said that, I would have expected them to have informed their constituents, in that case, why they could not attend a vote on an issue that is so crucial to thousands of families in the city, some of them potentially facing eviction due to not being able to afford to pay bedroom tax.
A number of acquaintances have suggested that maybe they were 'paired' with Tory MPs and indeed, Labour Party whips have put out a statement to the effect that this was the reason why many of the 47 Labour MPs weren't present.

For anybody who is not familiar with the concept of 'pairing', this is the parliamentary guide: http://www.parliament.uk/site-information/glossary/pairing/
Pairing allows MPs from opposite parties to enter into an agreement that if one can't attend a debate, the other also agrees not to attend. There are a couple of important points to be made here.

1) This is not a parliamentary rule but a voluntary agreement.
2) Pairing is not used for important political issues.

Labour's decision to pair so many of their MPs on this issue suggests that this debate was more about posturing in the opening shots of what promises to be an 18-month election campaign rather than a serious attempt to end the misery caused by the bedroom tax.
It seems that Labour prefers so-called gentlemen's agreements with a Con-Dem government of millionaires than fighting for poor constituents, who seem to be little more than voting fodder to them. The bedroom tax may not be a serious political issue for Labour MPs who agree to be 'paired' but it is extremely serious for tenants who can't afford it, potentially facing eviction.

It reinforces the feeling that parliament is a club, with obscure rules most of us don't understand, the main purpose of which is to provide MPs with a gravy train to ride.
If Labour wants to convince us they are serious about getting rid of the bedroom tax then they should immediately instruct all Labour councils to stop harassing and even threatening with eviction, people who can't afford to pay bedroom tax.

I am a member of the Socialist Party which believes that elected representatives should have the same income as the people they represent. We call for MPs to commit to being 'a workers' MP on a worker's wage'. We don't believe in entering into gentlemen's agreements with people that have caused so much misery for working class communities. And we demand an immediate 'no evictions' commitment for bedroom tax non-payers.
Labour MPs who didn't vote in the bedroom tax may just have put themselves at the head of the list for an electoral challenge by Trades Unionist and Socialist Coalition (which the Socialist Party is a constituent part of) candidates at the general election.

Ronnie Job, previous and potential Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) candidate in Swansea

Friday, 4 October 2013

Swansea Labour takes to streets.. to make Con-Dem cuts

Swansea's Labour councillors have been taking to the streets on the issue of cuts..

BUT not to fight them. They're part of a PR campaign for £45 million of Con-Dem cuts. They want our help in identifying which services to axe or outsource and which groups of workers to sack.

If a Labour councillor approaches you to help them identify Con-Dem cuts, tell them to resign. Then maybe we can get representatives who will fight the Con-Dems not make their cuts.

Ronnie Job, TUSC Wales supporter

Friday, 27 September 2013

Don't let Swansea's Labour council throw you overboard!

Swansea’s Labour Council will make £45 million of cuts to services and jobs over the next 3 years and they want your help to do it!

The Council’s consultation on what services to cut, as they attempt to make £45 million of cuts, is called ‘Sustainable Swansea’. I tried the web page advertised in the booklet of the same name that the Council has issued; it didn’t work and I got an invalid website message! Not an auspicious start, especially as one of the ideas they put forward to save money is to “Create online digital services so they can normally be the first point of contact with the council.”

“Should the council reduce the number of people it employs?” is one question posed in the consultation. It is quite clear that the Council sees a large part of its savings coming from cuts affecting council staff. The booklet tries to create the impression that these can be achieved through “..voluntary changes to contracts, early retirement and voluntary redundancy.” The idea that workforce changes would be voluntary cannot be taken seriously when, at the moment, the Council is trying to force through cuts to workers’ terms and conditions and council workers have been told to ‘sign or be sacked’.
Services will also be slashed; the booklet makes clear that “..we will not have the money to continue to do all that we do now.” Those services that survive the cuts could well be a lot less accessible to the people that need them most. ‘Value for money’ is a phrase repeated throughout the booklet and there is a proposal to, “Reduce subsidies to services, increase or introduce charges” for council services.
In his Evening Post column, Labour Council Leader, David Phillips, used a strange analogy; he suggested that if the council now is a super-tanker, after the cuts it will be a speedboat. A speedboat might be faster but it only of use to a select few. Does he plan to throw overboard most of the workforce and council service users? Don’t let Labour cut you adrift without a life-jacket, throw them out instead and get councillors who will represent us and fight cuts not implement them. Build Trade Unionists and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) as an alternative to fight all cuts and march, protest and strike together, council workers and council service users united, to defeat these cuts.
Ronnie Job, potential TUSC candidate in next Council/Assembly elections

This is a response sent to the Evening Post to today's column 'From a tanker to a speed boat' by Labour council leader, David Phillips, outlining the options the council is looking at to make £45 million cuts.

A Welsh alternative to royal mail privatisation but what's needed is common ownership with workers' control and management...

Plaid Cymru is the first party in Wales to suggest that in the event of Royal Mail privatisation, Wales should go a different way. However while opposed to Con-Dem outright privatisation, the vision put forward by Leanne Wood stops short of full public ownership in the sense that a socialist would understand it.

What she is putting forward is creating an arms-length company that would run mail services in Wales by permission of the Welsh Government, something similar to the position with Cardiff Wales Airport. It is also similar to councils hiving off services to arms-length trusts/companies. Council unions oppose such half steps to privatisation because the drive for profitability inevitably leads to poorer terms and conditions for the workforce and a poorer, more expensive, service to the public.

Socialists and trade unionists in Wales must give all our support to the CWU in their battle to defeat the privatisation of the Royal Mail. This battle has not been fought yet and we shouldn't accept it as lost, especially if CWU members were to link this battle with the struggles of other trade unionists who are also fighting the Con-Dems, such as the FBU who took strike action this week. Co-ordinated action, particularly in the form of a 24 hour general strike would shake this weak and divided coalition and could be an important step to not only defeating Royal Mail privatisation but bringing them down.

We need to fight privatisation and fight to win but should privatisation go ahead, we should demand that the Welsh Government bring the Welsh postal service into public ownership but under democratic public control, which means putting those who understand the service best, workers and trade unionists that deliver it and the public that use it, in charge. This could be a beacon to encourage the fight for re-nationalisation in England as well.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Plaid Cymru and Welsh Labour to make cuts together?

As Labour Councils in Wales are proving more and more willing to pass on Con-Dem cuts, making a mockery of the claim made by too many Labour-supporting trade union leaders in Wales that the Welsh Government protects Welsh workers from the worst of Con-Dem cuts, some trade unionists may be tempted to look at Plaid Cymru as a left alternative.

There couldn't be a starker demonstration that Plaid Cymru is another 'cuts' party, ready and willing to attack public sector workers and the services they provide than the offer publically made this week by Plaid Cymru to join the ruling Labour Group in a formal coalition on Carmarthenshire Council and assist them to find up to £18 million of cuts. The leader of the Labour Group has stated the Council needs to implement what he calls a 'tsunami of cuts' and Plaid Cymru councillors want to help him identify which groups of workers or which services will suffer to pay for them! Plaid Cymru with this statement, confirms its position in the 4 parties of cuts in Wales.

There are no planned council elections in Wales next year, meaning the next chance that most of us will get to vote is the general election. We need to build the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) Wales now in order that we can provide a genuine, fighting, socialist alternative to workers, trade unionists and working class communities in Wales. The Con-Dems have 4 parties to carry out their cuts in Wales, isn't it time we had an alternative to fight them?

Friday, 16 August 2013

Welsh Labour Council attacks union members - same old story

An all too familiar tale..

The sight of a Welsh Labour Council attacking the trade union members who voted and campaigned for their election is becoming the norm in Wales at the moment.

This time it is the majority Labour administration in Swansea who are trying to force through cuts under the disguise of ‘job evaluation’. Last week Swansea Socialist Party reported on the increasingly threatening noises coming from leading members of the council as they poured cold water on the idea that anything could come out of further discussions with UNISON, despite the overwhelming vote by UNISON members to reject the Council’s proposals.

Now the council has gone over the heads of the union and sent out a letter to all council employees telling them to move over to the new contracts voluntarily or be dismissed and re-hired on the new conditions, “..any employee who refuses to accept the new reward package will be dismissed and offered immediate re-engagement under the new terms”. UNISON has correctly accused the Council of trying to bully union members and issued advice not to sign the new contracts, while they seek advice and consult.

Among the workers who stand to lose out from the cuts to allowances, bonuses, etc., are 2,000 plus workers who will have their retainers removed, effectively reducing the number of weeks a year they get paid for. For many, this will cancel out anything they would gain from the Council agreeing to pay the minimum wage this year (which doesn’t however include a commitment to become a recognised minimum wage employer). It has been estimated by the union that nursery nurses could lose 10% of their income.

UNISON has organised a demonstration outside the Civic Centre, where the Council meets, next Tuesday (27th August) at 4pm. It is important that everybody who uses Council services understands that it is impossible to make cuts to the terms and conditions of council workers without destroying morale and having a detrimental effect on the quality of service our members provide. In any case, these are just a taste of the cuts in services to come, now that the Labour Council has shown it is just as willing to carry out Con-Dem cuts as the previous Lib Dem-led coalition and just as ruthless in their implementation. It is vital that other trade unionists and anti-cuts campaigners back the demonstration on Tuesday, council workers should not be made to pay, by a Labour council, for a crisis that was not of our making.

It is increasingly clear that the council will not back down unless it meets determined industrial action from the council workforce. Some left Labour councillors may be embarrassed by being lobbied by their own workforce but ultimately Welsh Labour Councils will not baulk at attacking their own supporters and their own workforce to achieve cuts. Labour councils in Neath Port Talbot and Rhondda Cynon Taff after all were pioneers in the early days of the Con-Dem government of using the threat of mass dismissals and re-employment on poorer terms, to drive through cuts to workers’ conditions.

When the Green council in Brighton implemented similar cuts, there was UK-wide trade union backing for GMB members who refused to accept them. The fact that this is a Labour council can not be allowed to hamper the fight and the backing of UNISON members with all the resources they need. These Labour councillors were elected with substantial UNISON support; they have now forfeited any right to further support. UNISON should withdraw funding and support from Labour and instead back candidates who are prepared to vote in the interests of our members; candidates who are prepared to vote against all cuts, like TUSC Wales candidates.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Welsh Labour's seismic council cuts

The level of cuts being implemented by Welsh Labour Councils is now so great that only geological terms will suffice to give an idea of their size. Carmarthenshire Council's Labour leader has described the potential £18 million savings as a "tsunami of cuts". Now Newport's Labour leader is trying to get support from other parties to identify cuts of up to £14 million, which he describes as "seismic change".


It is clear that Welsh Labour councils have no intention of standing up to the Con-Dems and that they will pass on the full level of cuts, albeit with "glum faces" as in Blaenau Gwent.

The working class communities of Wales don't need sad makers of cuts; we need representatives that will vote to protect our jobs and services. It is clear that we need an earthquake in political representation to match the scale of the task ahead. Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition (TUSC) Wales is pledged to fight and vote against all cuts and to fight for the needs of working class people and their communities.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Miliband walking in Thatcher's footsteps?

Don't just take my word for it..

UNISON has analysed documents released from the national archive and has found that in 1982 Thatcher and her advisors were looking at making 'reforms' to the link between trade unions and the Labour Party that were eerily similar to those that Miliband will present at his proposed special conference next year.

UNISON calls for a campaign to defend the link and defeat these proposals at the conference. They've done this without publically defending UNITE against Miliband's vicious attacks and reporting to the police.
But Miliband has revealed his absolute contempt for trade unions, referring to our 6-7 million members and their families as a 'narrow, sectional interest'. Not for some time have trade unions and the Labour Party been seen as complimentary partners in a combined labour and trade union movement. Instead, the Labour leadership views unions as little more than a source of income.

That contempt will be shown even more in the run up to Labour's special conference, as egged on by the Tory press to show independence from trade unions, the Labour leadership's attacks on trade unions are likely to increase.

The best answer to Labour's attacks on trade unions would be for unions, like UNISON, to break the link with Labour themselves rather than waiting passively for Labour to neuter their waning influence in the party. With the pace of cuts, destruction of our NHS, declining living standards all increasing, trade unionists need a political voice to represent working class people more than ever. The £millions that would no longer be squandered on a Labour Party that does not represent our interests should not be absorbed back into union funds but instead used to fund a political alternative to act in our interests.

If UNISON, or another major union, was to join with the RMT in affiliating to the Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition (TUSC), it would transform the political situation completely and present millions of disenfranchised trade unionists and working class people with a real alternative.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

In Caerphilly, Penyrheol ward, vote Jaime Davies, Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition Today

It has been revealed that Caerphilly Council spent £156,000 in the last 3 years on spying on its own staff.

One firm has been awarded the contract for most of this spying on council workers and it was revealed in the press earlier this year how the senior council officer responsible for awarding them the contract, was appointed chief executive of the company on leaving his job with the Council.

This is a council rapidly acquiring a dirty reputation. It is the Welsh Labour Council being investigated by police over the 'secret' awarding of huge pay rises to senior council officers. Such was the outcry when that story broke that UNISON members working for the Council, suffering a 3-year pay freeze, held a walk out and lobby of the Labour Party Group meeting. They protested that Labour councillors had voted these awards through at the same time as carrying out cuts to services and to the terms and conditions of their workforce.

Some of the council workers who were spied upon are challenging, with the support of their trade union, whether the Council followed correct procedures designed to prevent unwarranted surveillance from their employer.

Council officers in Caerphilly need to be accountable to the community and today, in one ward ar least, people will have the opportunity to vote for a candidate with clear policies on putting the interests of this working class community before all else. In the Penyrheol ward they can vote for Jaime Davies, standing for the Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition (TUSC) on a platform of voting against all cuts to services and to the terms and conditions of council workers.

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Enthusiastic Launch of TUSC Wales Committee

Image: Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition logo

Ronnie Job, Swansea trades council secretary

As the RMT was the first, of hopefully many, trade unions to officially back the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), it was fitting that the opening remarks at a meeting on Saturday to launch a TUSC Wales steering committee went to an RMT representative.

Steve Skelly from the RMT Council of Executives explained that the government's attacks on his industry, the rail industry, contained in the McNulty report, threaten the loss of 20,000 jobs.

Attacks on this scale demand a political response and a commitment to nationalisation of the transport industry, as well as a trade union fight. As Steve said: "The Labour Party is no longer a viable option".


Leading Welsh members and workplace representatives from other trade unions including Unison, Unite, PCS, CWU, GMB, NUJ and NUM, gave greetings and their support in a personal capacity to the launch of the Wales steering committee.

They explained how their members all need a political alternative that challenges the mainstream parties' acceptance, including by Welsh Labour and Plaid Cymru, of capitalism, the market and flowing from that, the need for cuts.

A number of leading PCS Wales members said that their union had recently committed to supporting candidates in elections who support the same policies as PCS. As far as they are concerned the political platform that matches the PCS position of opposing all cuts is that of TUSC.

Others in attendance represented important campaigns in our communities, in defence of NHS services, against the bedroom tax and against cuts in council services.

Labour imposing austerity

Delegate after delegate reported on how a Labour Welsh government and Welsh Labour councils are failing to protect working class communities in Wales from Con-Dem cuts.

Labour is carrying through deep cuts in the NHS in Wales, its proposed Bill for Further and Higher Education opens up the entire further education sector to the threat of privatisation and Labour councils are passing on Con-Dem cuts while refusing to provide any guarantees that poor households that can't pay the bedroom tax won't be evicted.

The launch was enthusiastically embraced by members of the Socialist Party Wales, one of the constituent parts of the coalition that is TUSC.

Socialist Party Wales secretary Dave Reid appealed to other socialist groups, including the Communist Party, to stand in elections with TUSC.

He pointed out that they could keep their own identities, even standing under their own names, but coming together under the umbrella of TUSC will ensure the maximum impact of socialist ideas and the maximum representation of trade union interests in elections.

There may not be any planned council, Welsh government or parliamentary elections in Wales until 2015 but all those at the meeting pledged to be ready as and when byelections arise and to continue to build the reputation of TUSC Wales in preparation for future battles.

Chair of the meeting, Phil Jones of the RMT, summed up the enthusiasm by putting himself forward for consideration for selection as a future candidate.

For more information, please see:
TUSC Website

Friday, 15 March 2013

Wales NHS cuts - fight or download a phone app?

Your local Accident and Emergency Unit being shut down? Don’t worry – your Welsh Labour Government has got an app for that!

As queues of ambulances were building outside Welsh Hospitals this week and non-emergency operations were being cancelled as staff were diverted elsewhere, did the Welsh Government pause to re-consider their plans to shut and downgrade Accident & Emergency services across Wales? No. Instead they’ve told us not to worry because they’ve got a free phone app for us to download!

On the Welsh Government’s website it says: “The free to download Choose Well application provides advice on which service to use when ill or injured and details of how to find them.” http://wales.gov.uk/newsroom/healthandsocialcare/2013/130313ae/?lang=en

Great but if the Welsh Government’s plans go through, finding the service you need will be difficult; they intend to close all specialist neo-natal care in North Wales, forcing people to travel to the Wirral and to have only 4, or 5 at most, A&E units for the whole of South Wales.

The people of Wales do need to choose well on the NHS. We need to choose never to trust Labour on our health services again. Instead we need to unite our different campaigns and fight all NHS cuts in Wales and build a political alternative, TUSC.