Thursday, 20 November 2008

Time for a workers' bail-out

It's now been established that work at Hoover in Merthyr Tydfil is under threat. 337 jobs are now confirmed to be at risk. The plant is not in my region of South Wales Central, but some of the workers are. We've also heard in the past few days that Bosch plans to lay off several hundred workers. That came after more news of 50 job losses Waldon Cars in Tonyrefail, and the problems at L'Oreal in Talbot Green where I met management and workers to try and find a way to minimise the impact of changes there.

It was not long ago that we could claim record numbers of people in employment in Wales. Now that claim has been turned on its head. Unemployment in Wales (standing at 6.7% in the latest statistics) is now outstripping most of the rest of the UK. Repossession rates are also on the increase. The part-nationalisation of some banks by Gordon Brown should have halted mortgage repossessions. Yet Northern Rock's house repossession rates increased after it became a publicly-owned bank. Gordon Brown has bailed out the banks but has not followed up on imposing limitations and conditions to protect working people.

Bank executives are still receiving huge bonuses and are still laying off thousands of workers. Lloyds TSB and HBOS branches in Cardiff, Barry and elsewhere in Wales could face closure if the merger of those two banks goes ahead. The HBOS Card Accounts building across the road from the Assembly might also have to cut jobs. In Merthyr, the PCS Union has warned that Merthyr's HMRC (Customs and Revenue) offices could shut as part of the UK Government's cutbacks. Seventy people are employed there.

The Assembly in Cardiff is limited in what it can do in a global recession of this scale. Ieuan Wyn Jones has been able to save some jobs at Hoover, and Jocelyn Davies has introduced a mortgage rescue scheme for the worst case scenarios where repossessions would result in homelessness. The Economic Summit was a decisive step and I will be pressing for the One Wales Government to take more measures to protect as many jobs and homes as possible. There's plenty more to be done on both ends of the M4, but as a matter of urgency Gordon Brown must abandon his UK-wide programme of civil service cuts. There is no way Labour in London can justify cutting jobs which they bankroll at a time like this. The bailout for banks has saved the salaries of the executives- now we need a bailout for workers.

1 comment:

Draig said...

I have a slightly more radical suggestion. Everytime a company that has benefitted from "regional selective assistance" (i.e. our taxpayers money)announces a huge wave of job cuts or proposes closure, why does the Assembly not demand it's repayment? We the taxpayers of wales have a right to know where our money has gone - and how much.

This money can then be used to fund and support the creation of indigenous and worker-owned enterprises a la Tower colliery.

Like it or not, the "inward investment" strategy that was pioneered first by the Tories, then Labour, and now Labour/Plaid is now in the process of collapsing. It is built on a model of economic globalisation which is now in full scale retreat. Protectionism is the order of the day.

Take a leaf out of Barack Obama's book!