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!

Friday, 31 October 2014

Capitalism is all trick and no treats for the working class

A quick scan of the newspapers or TV this Halloween reveals plenty of evidence for the horrors of capitalism, locally and further afield.
  • More than 5 million workers in the UK earn less than the Living Wage. In Wales, it was reported earlier this year that there are just 18 Living Wage accredited employers and more than 1 in 5 workers earn less than the Living Wage. Scandalously that includes council workers in Labour authorities, including Swansea.
  • For whole groups of workers, the minimum wage, less than what is needed to get by on, has become the norm. Nearly one quarter of minimum wage workers have been paid at that level for 5 years.
  • Bosses are getting more inventive in getting us to work for less and less. Casualisation, zero-hours contracts, bogus self-employment. These are all methods used to get more profit out of us. If you were expecting better from a Labour Council then think again. Our Council uses zero-hours contracts and outsources services to companies who use tricks like paying care workers only for 15 minute visits and not the travel time in between, meaning care workers effectively earn less than the legal minimum wage.
  • No wonder the numbers of children in families living in poverty has topped 4 million. A report by the Children's Society in August revealed that 23% of Welsh families are struggling with household debt.
  • The number of people having to rely on food banks is growing and the range of people having to use them has also increased, including working families who's wages don't cover the cost of living. A food bank was set up in one of Swansea's universities last year for students who can't afford to feed themselves. Hardly surprising with successive Labour and Con-Dem governments first introducing then raising fees on top of the rising cost of living.
  • With families struggling to afford even the basics of life, luxuries are becoming a distant memory for many. Living in Swansea, we're fortunate to have some of the most beautiful coastline on our doorstep but did you know that Barnardos has reported that as many as 1 in 5 families can't afford a day out at the seaside and fish and chips?
It hasn't been bad news for everybody though; the richest have done very well out of austerity. The number of billionaires globally has doubled since the start of the economic crisis; austerity has been used as a cover to transfer wealth from the poorest to the richest. Just 85 people (about the capacity of the infamous Swansea bendy bus) together are worth as much as the poorest half of the world's population. Remember that when politicians tell you that "we're all in together" or that we have to accept cuts.
TUSC Graphic where will your vote goUnfortunately you will find no challenge to what one German economist has called 'zombie capitalism' from the zombie Labour party. So desperate is Ed Miliband to show he can manage capitalism that he's promised to keep within Con-Dem spending limits and won't commit to reversing Con-Dem cuts. Labour promises to be tougher on the unemployed and all those that rely on state benefits to supplement their incomes. And Labour plays the Tory/UKIP game of blaming immigrants and migrant workers instead of targeting the greedy bosses.
No wonder workers are turning away from Labour in disgust, leading to an emptying out of the party, which now contains the disillusioned who can't break lifelong loyalties and careerists aiming to make a living on the backs of the working class. When I was in the Labour Party, each ward in Swansea had a party branch, now branches cover multiple wards and are not capable of holding councillors to account.
The paper's are reporting Labour faces being wiped out in Scotland for their collusion with the Tories but that's just a taste of their future elsewhere. My wife, Claire, asked me what I wanted to wear to Swansea Socialist Party's Halloween Party. I said I'd go as the walking dead and asked her to get me a Labour rosette.
It was to provide a vibrant, 'no cuts', socialist alternative to the horrors of capitalism that the Trades Unionist and Socialist Coalition was founded. TUSC is what it says on our banner. We are workers and campaigners, united by a commitment to basic trade union principles of solidarity and socialism. We've come together because we want to challenge the acceptance by all the other parties that ordinary people must be made to pay for the crisis of capitalism. We say we won't pay for a crisis not of our making and so we commit to fighting and voting, against every cut to jobs, pay or services.
Next year we aim to stand 1,000 council candidates in England (there's no council elections in Wales) and 100 candidates for MPs positions in the General Election. I'm the prospective TUSC Against Cuts candidate for Swansea West, one of four candidates who've already come forward in Wales. Can you help us reach our target of  contesting 7 seats in Wales?
Ronnie Job
Vote TUSC Against Cuts in Uplands Ward council by-election on November 20.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

The need for a publicly owned integrated transport network

Travelling home tonight I'll face a dilemma: Do I more than double my travel time or nearly double my travel costs?

The problem is the bus company awarded one leg of the quickest route, by the Council, doesn't accept the day travel ticket I've just bought with another company for the journey in.

The Welsh Labour Government and Welsh Labour councils all pay lip service to the idea of an integrated transport policy but do precious little about it. They've also made cuts in public transport, reducing subsidies for bus operators.

A publicly owned, integrated transport network could be planned to meet the needs of users, providing cheap, safe and clean travel. It could begin to reduce congestion on our roads and could be a big step forward in reducing the environmental impact of transport.

But the Labour Party will not even commit to re-nationalising the rail network, despite an overwhelming vote for this at their own national conference. The allocation of transport contracts to the lowest bidder will put more and more people in situations like mine where public transport is an uneconomic long drudge.

TUSC: For an integrated publicly owned and planned public transport network.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

TUSC says council cuts are a threat to safety and security

Swansea Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) supporters out campaigning to get Ronnie Job elected as a TUSC Against Cuts councillor in the Uplands by-election last night were struck by just how dark it was. Yes, I know, the clocks go back every year but that's why we have street lighting to keep people safe.

It seems to be The Council's policy to turn off every other light, either that or cuts are affecting street light maintenance. TUSC supporters are in favour of saving energy as part of a plan to protect our local environment but I suspect these cuts are more to do with saving money and will come at the cost of increased accidents and injuries. Particularly when cut backs across the board at the Council seem to be leading to other hazards like wet leaves remaining on pavements.

There is also a very real threat to personal safety. Even students making their way home fro the University after the last lecture of the day will be walking in the dark thanks to street lighting cuts.

Don't take chances with peoples' safety and security. Cuts pose a danger to council workers and residents alike. Staff and resource council departments that keep us safe and free from injury properly. Oppose all council cuts and outsourcing.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Are Labour Councillors paid £1,000 a meeting to cut jobs and services?

The Post revealed last week that Swansea councillors are being paid over a £1000 a month for the privilege of representing their constituents and it has rightly left a lot of people angry.

Ronnie Job, Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition (TUSC) candidate in the forthcoming Uplands by-election said,

"The lowest paid councillors are getting over £1,000 a month. That's £1,000 a council meeting (£2,000 a meeting for those with poorer attendance records). And in most cases, that's on top of their day jobs."

"Councillors are earning as much for a few hours' attendance, or non-attendance in some cases, at Council meetings, as some of the council workers whose jobs they vote to cut or outsource."

Cabinet members get around £600 a week, well over the average wage and the Council Leader a whopping £1,000 a week!

Socialists don't take positions, representing working class people, as a means to make money for themselves.

Ronnie pledges:

"If elected, I would take only genuine expenses, donating the rest of the councillor's wages to campaigners and trade unionists fighting cuts, like those being made by our overpaid Labour councillors."

Swansea: Cuts, Culture and Dylan Thomas' commitment to the socialist ideas that Labour's abandoned

As Swansea's celebration of the centenary of Dylan Thomas' birth continue there has been precious little mention of his socialist principles and campaigning.

Here's a link to an article by TUSC candidate for the Uplands by-election, Ronnie Job, written on occasion of the awarding of City of Culture to Hull over Swansea.

It includes suggestions for reading about Dylan Thomas' commitment to socialism and the socialist principles that Labour has abandoned, as demonstrated by Swansea's Labour councillors' commitment to carrying out Tory cuts.


Sunday, 26 October 2014

Press release: Socialist Challenge in Llanelli at General Election

There will be a new left wing challenge to the established political parties in Llanelli at next year’s general election. The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) has selected Scott Jones, a young trade unionist living in the Dafen area to fight the Llanelli seat.
TUSC, as the name suggests is a coalition of people who stand for socialist and trade union principles and values. They all have in common a belief that Labour is no longer a party of the working class and the time is now ripe for a new party that unashamedly fights for the rights, welfare and living standards of working people. In practice, that means fighting the cuts and austerity agenda of the Government and also opposing cuts implemented by local authorities whatever party is carrying them out.
TUSC supports the TUC policy to increase the minimum wage to £10 per hour and this is one of their main priorities.
TUSC is already supported by the Rail workers union (RMT) formerly led by the late Bob Crow who was also leader of TUSC.

Scott Jones is 26 years old and is a local branch secretary of the shop workers union USDAW. Mr Jones said “At a time when we are facing some of the biggest attacks on our living standards in history, the working class needs somebody to fight for them. The millionaires have their political parties. It’s time we had one of our own.”

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Welsh Labour overseeing the end of council services as we know them

From this week's Socialist Paper: Welsh Labour presiding over the end of council services as we know them and why it was important that TUSC stands in the Uplands by-election.


TUSC Campaign for Uplands Ward up and running

Spent a pleasant morning (despite the weather) leafleting and talking to people around the Uplands Market about why I'm standing for the Trade Unionists and Socialist Coalition in the Uplands by-election on November 20.

We met a lot of council workers furious that a Labour council is cutting jobs and outsourcing services, that it employs workers on less than the Living Wage and makes use of zero hours contracts. Other Uplands residents told us how they fear for the future of services in Swansea as Labour continues to pass on Con-Dem cuts - they intend to take £26 million out of jobs and services this year and £70 million over 3 years.

Image of first TUSC leaflet for UplandsNot everybody was pleased to see us though. One Labour councillor went past shouting about how if he and his Labour colleagues didn't make cuts then they'd be made by Jack Straw (Chief Executive of the Council - not the former Labour Government Minister). That would be the same Jack Straw that a number of Labour councillors thanked in the budget-setting meeting earlier this year, for helping them to put together their budget of cuts to jobs and services then?

In any case as I wrote yesterday, I can't see how it's better to have your services cut or your job axed by a so-called 'left' Labour councillor than by council officers. We want councillors who will vote against all cuts and who will instruct officers to protect, not cut, jobs and services.

It was great to get the campaign up and running, our leaflets went down well and our new TUSC banner looked fantastic. We aim to show over the next 4 weeks that it is possible to have an alternative - representatives prepared to vote against and fight all cuts. If you've had enough of Labour councillors being paid to make Tory cuts then help us build TUSC as that alternative.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Labour Council Cuts: Better for whom?

One of the justifications Labour councillors often use when voting through cuts is "it's better that we make cuts than somebody else does". This was one of the repeated phrases at the Council's budget-setting meeting when not one councillor was prepared to speak out, let alone vote, against £26 million of cuts to jobs and services just in this year.

It's something I've never got! How can it be better to know that your job is being axed or outsourced by a Labour council? How can it be better to know that a service you rely on is under threat of being axed by Labour councillors?

If you add in 3 little words: "get paid to" it makes more sense. As in "better we GET PAID TO make cuts than somebody else does". The only people for whom Labour cuts are better than Tory, Lib-Dem, UKIP or any other political shade of cuts, are the Labour councillors getting paid to make them, as far as I can see.

The Evening Post has been publishing this week just how much they are being paid: over £13,000 for a councillor, £31,000+ for a cabinet member, £52,000 for the Council Leader. The basic councillor's wage is more than some members of my union branch employed by the Council, in some cases on zero-hours contracts or for less than the Living Wage. And for many councillors this is an additional income on top of their 'day jobs'!

As a Socialist Party representative, standing for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, I pledge to take only audited expenses - I don't expect to be paid for being a councillor.

If elected, like all TUSC representatives, I will vote, speak out against and campaign against all cuts to jobs and services.

TUSC demands the Council immediately stop exploiting workers through zero-hours contracts, including contracting services to firms that do.

TUSC calls on the Council to stop stalling and immediately implement the Living Wage as the first step towards TUC policy of £10/hour.

Ronnie Job

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Vote yes and co-ordinate action to end the pay freeze

I've just voted 'yes' in the consultation being undertaken by my union, UNISON and the other campus unions in further education in Wales.
The consultation will determine whether we are balloted for strike action in pursuit of our pay claim. The Welsh colleges have decided not to make a cost of living award this year.
Our unions estimate that in the last 6 years the value of our incomes have fallen by 18% in real terms. The fall in our wages is driving a number of our members into poverty. A decisive vote for action is needed to provide a mandate to our unions to organise the action that will be needed to halt the race to the bottom.
We also need to link the fight on our wages to a campaign to demand increased funding from the Welsh Government and to halt the cuts in education.
UNISON members in the NHS in Wales have just voted for strike action on pay and there is a growing movement of local government branches to overturn the suspension of the local authority strikes. We have different employers but we all face the same catastrophic fall in wages and living standards and all caused by the cuts of the Con-Dems.
We can't rely on Labour to protect us from Con-Dem cuts - Labour councils and the Welsh Government simply pass them on. So it's up to us to halt the race to the bottom on our wages and striking together provides our best chance of breaking the pay freeze.
The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition  is the political no cuts alternative that, unlike Labour, backs workers fighting to defend their wages, jobs and services. TUSC representatives also commit to voting against all cuts.
Ronnie Job

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Send a message to Swansea Council - vote for the no-cuts, socialist candidate in the Uplands by-election!

I'm Ronnie Job, intending to stand for the Trades Unionist & Socialist Coalition (TUSC) in the council by-election in Uplands Ward.
Who I am:
  • Education worker.
  • UNISON steward.
  • Secretary of Swansea Trades Council.
  • Member of the Socialist Party (and before that, Militant) for over 25 years.
Standing because I’m a trade unionist:
I’m standing because I’m a trade unionist and I’m fed up of a Labour council attacking its own workforce because councillors prefer to make Con-Dem cuts rather than fighting them:
The Labour Group has been in power in Swansea Council for 2 years but it:
  • Employs hundreds of workers on zero-hours contracts
  • Has still not implemented the Living Wage
  • Is cutting and outsourcing jobs
  • Has told members of my own union branch and other council workers, facing a loss of income, to accept new contracts and “sign or be sacked”.
Standing up for council jobs and services:
I’m standing because I value council services. I sat in the public gallery earlier this year as the Council passed a budget for £26 million of cuts to services this year. Not one Labour councillor voted against these cuts or the proposal to make £45 million cuts over 3 years. That figure has now risen to £70 million as the Labour Welsh Government has passed on even more Con-Dem cuts and still not one Labour councillor has had the courage to speak out or vote to protect their constituents’ jobs and services.
Labour councillors often make statements like “it’s better we make cuts than somebody else does”, as a justification for voting Tory cuts.
“Better for whom?” is what I want to know.
  • Is it better for the worker in social care on a zero hours contract and not getting paid for their travelling time, if it’s a Labour council imposes those conditions?
  • Is it better for users of adult day care services that it is Labour councillors who are threatening to sell off or axe them?
If a Labour council passes on Tory cuts then the only people I think it’s better for is Labour councillors. Do they really mean, “it’s better we GET PAID TO make cuts than somebody else does”?
The central commitment that every TUSC candidate makes is to vote against all cuts.
Who the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition are:
The Trades Unionists and Socialist Coalition is exactly what it says on our banner. We are ordinary people - trades unionists, workers, users of council services who don’t believe we, our families and our communities should be made to pay for a crisis that was not of our making.
Socialism the alternative:
We’re socialists because if capitalism, this system of crisis based on profit, can’t afford decent council services provided by workers paid enough to be able to provide for their families in turn, then we can’t afford capitalism. Our vision of socialism is where the wealth and resources or our society are used for the needs of our community not the profits of a rich few.
Don’t waste an opportunity to send a message to Welsh Labour:
There are no planned council elections in Wales until at least 2017. This may well be the last chance before then that voters in Uplands have to vote for an alternative to the cuts-consensus of all established parties.
Don’t waste the opportunity to send a clear ‘no more cuts’ message by voting for the only no-cuts, socialist candidate in this by-election.