Thursday, 30 June 2011

Supporting the Strike

After weeks of lies and condemnation of industrial action by senior figures in the Conservative and Labour Party alike, union members have stayed the course and stood up to this unjustified assault on their pension schemes.

It was clear from the picket lines at Welsh Government buildings in Cathays Park and the Bay that there is a great deal of anger at the way public sector workers are being treated by the Con/Dem Coalition Government. What also stood out was the resolve of union members; a resolve to ensure that the public sector does not become the scapegoat for the casino capitalism that brought the UK finances to the brink.

There has been much condemnation of the public sector in the media in recent weeks as well as attempts to pit private sector workers against public sector workers. It should not be forgotten that it was not teachers, civil servants or any other public sector worker who frittered away billions of pounds on risky investments before having to be bailed out by the tax payer. Why should they accept a substantial hit to their retirement because of the folly of a greedy few in Westminster's square mile and the failure of the UK Labour Government to reign them in?

I am particularly concerned at how these proposed changes will impact upon women. We already know that many women face poverty in retirement for a variety of reasons and are generally being paid less than men for doing the same job. Given the high proportion of women that work in the public sector, this inequity will only be exacerbated if the Tories and Lib Dems in London get their way. This is yet another contradiction of Cameron's mantra that 'we are all in this together.' He says that public sector workers are provided with 'gold-plated' pensions: another fallacy perpetuated to drive a wedge between private sector and public sector workers.

Some teachers entered their profession in acceptance of low-pay and tough conditions in the knowledge their pensions would prevent them from a life of poverty in retirement. Now this is being placed under threat by the UK Government's determination to rip up their terms and conditions. It is theft.

The right to withdraw labour has been a democratic right for a long time and it is staggering to see Labour MPs like Andy Burnham and leader Ed Miliband condemn this strike action. I am pleased to say that Plaid Cymru politicians will not be crossing the picket lines today; not in Cardiff Bay nor Westminster.

I salute the workers that have taken a stand today. Stand united and you should get what you deserve.


Darren Williams said...

Well done, Leanne. Great speech at the Cardiff strike rally today!

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