Wednesday, 10 November 2010
How to Lose Friends and Alienate People
Even though a fortnight has passed since news broke of the ‘lock-out’ at Rhondda Cynon Taf county borough council, the news is yet to truly sink in.
For those who haven’t heard, the Labour-run council has threatened 10,000 workers in Rhondda Cynon Taf with a ‘lock-out’ unless they accept lower terms and conditions of employment without any negotiations, by-passing the trades unions and refusing to rule out compulsory redundancies.
In the Rhondda, we have just commemorated the 100 years since the Tonypandy riots broke out. How ironic is the timing of this anniversary?
In terms of shafting their core supporters, this "gun-boat diplomacy" is up there with the abolition of the 10p tax rate.
In fact, Labour is the only party to have threatened staff with a lock-out in Wales – first in Neath and now in Rhondda Cynon Taf. The Tories have taken similar action in England but not even they have dared to try the same in Wales. The Plaid group on RCT council have battled to prevent this non-negotiable down-grade of workers' terms and conditions, but the ruling Labour group voted to hand over responsibility for decisions about staff over to the Chief Executive just before the threatened lock-out. Do those Labour councillors really believe that keeps their hands clean?
RCT council is prepared to ride rough-shod over the workers’ terms and conditions before knowing the level of finance they will receive from the Assembly Government. The Assembly's draft budget is not due to be published until the 17th of November. Councils will know their financial settlement after that.
RCT's non-negotiable plan includes cutting the overtime payments of some of the lowest paid staff. I want to know much of a pay cut the top brass are taking. And the cabinet members? How 'all-in-this-together' are we in RCT?
In the valleys before the last election, Labour told people that only they could stop the Tories. How hollow these claims must sound to their voters now that they are behaving exactly like them.