Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Plaid supports strikers

Tomorrow, one of the biggest days of industrial action will take place in the UK in living memory. I will stand with the many ordinary men and women who are calling for the pension schemes they signed up to and paid in to, to be honoured. It is not too much to ask for a retirement without poverty after a lifetime of work but that is exactly what is at stake if the Westminster coalition has their way with the public sector pension scheme.

This is precisely why this issue has garnered such wide-spread support, particularly from trades unions which have never previously taken part in industrial action. Refuse workers, teachers, nurses, civil servants, meals on wheels providers will all be screwed by this Westminster cabinet of millionaires. Yet if you swallowed the rhetoric, you would be forgiven for thinking that tomorrow’s strikers are greedy, self-serving and not living in the real world.

Education Secretary of State Michael Gove this week described some of the union leaders as “militants itching for a fight”; a statement rendered even more farcical by the emergence of pictures of him kneeling proudly on an NUJ picket line in the 1980s.

The Government’s lead negotiator with the trade unions is Francis Maude MP. This privileged son of a Tory MP has been hopelessly inept throughout the whole proceedings and shown an ignorance of Government policy that mystifies his appointment as the government's liaison person with the trade union movement. I'd say that it's the Westminster Coalition Government that is actually ‘itching for a fight’ with the public sector. After all, they have form when it comes to cracking down on the public sector in their brief, but incredibly destructive, 18 months in office.

In Plaid Cymru, we know whose side we are on. We recognise that public sector workers deserve to retire without facing grinding poverty after a lifetime of dedication. Most importantly, we are not afraid to declare our support for such a just cause….are you listening Ed Miliband? As a Unison member and chair of the cross-party PCS group in the Assembly, I will proudly take my place on the picket line tomorrow.

I have no doubt that moral argument is on our side. With solidarity and determination, victory will be ours too.

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