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Cardiff’s Premiere Pride

4 Sep

The Welsh capital was witness last weekend to what was the first ever pride parade to take place in the country. There was a good turnout and great reception for this long overdue event that took place as part of the annual Cardiff Mardi Gras.
 
Whilst Saturday was a time for celebration and an opportunity to mark how far we’ve come, it is also important that we recognise that more still needs to be done. We need to go further to support LGBT people in their local communities, workplaces and all walks of life and bring about an end to discrimination. Incidents of homophobic hate crime are unfortunately all too real and we need to build on work to tackle homophobic bullying in schools and across wider society.
 
Last Saturday’s pride parade was a step in the right direction in terms of positively increasing the visibility of LGBT people in Wales and hopefully the start of many such parades. But we also need not to lose sight of the importance of the politics of equality and the ongoing campaign for further change.

 

 
 

Public sector workers strike to defend pensions

10 May

by Amy Jackson


Hundreds of thousands of public sector workers are taking part in a 24-hour strike today across the UK to defend their Strikers brave the rain in Walespensions.  The strike goes ahead after union members from PCS, Unite, UCU, NIPSA and RMT overwhelmingly rejected the government’s proposals, saying the changes will leave them paying more and working longer for less in retirement.

Braving the elements on picket lines across the country, the public sector workers on strike today include paramedics, border agency staff, lecturers, MOD staff and civil servants. Lunchtime rallies in support of the strike are planned in major cities over the UK, such as Bristol, London,. Birmingham, Cardiff, Liverpool, Newcastle, Manchester, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Swansea. Despite the government dismissing the strike, the unions are determined to get their message across to the government. They will not work longer, pay more, and get less, in order to pay for a crisis they did not create.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “The early signs are that our strike is being very well supported across the UK. Our members do not take strike action lightly but, faced with severe attacks on their pensions, pay, jobs and communities they have no choice but to defend what they and their families have worked to create for generations.

“Ministers are making unpopular, unnecessary and unfair cuts to the livelihoods of public servants to pay off a deficit caused by greed and recklessness in the financial sector, and for more than 12 months have refused to negotiate on the key issues of paying more and working longer for a worse pension.”

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: ‘College and university staff are already seeing the impact of the government’s pension changes on their pay packets and will lose hundreds of pounds every year in return for reduced pensions when they retire. It is simply not fair for ordinary families to be bearing the brunt of the government’s cuts while those at the top get tax cuts.’

Unite’s Assistant General Secretary, Gail Cartmail said: “Tomorrow’s industrial action will build on the high level of anger that was on display during the 30 November strikes.

“George Osborne’s austerity plans are beginning to sicken everyone.  A ‘work until you drop’ culture in this country is not because people want teachers, nurses, firemen struggling at work into their 70s. It is because Osborne has ordained that this is the way to get ordinary people to carry the heaviest burden.  It is another attack on living standards and will make the UK, a miserable and socially divided island in which to live.”

Refusing to take the strike seriously, Conservative Party chairman Lady Warsi told BBC News that workers were being asked to “work a little bit longer and to pay a bit more but they will be guaranteed a pension which is index-linked and inflation proof”.

“I’m disappointed that a handful of unions are striving to carry on with union action which is going to benefit no-one and is going to inconvenience the public.”

Alongside the strike, 20,000 off-duty policemen are marching through London in protest against cuts and privatisation. The first 16,000 will be wearing black caps to represent each job in the police force that is being lost.

Left Out sends its solidarity to all striking workers today, and we’d love to hear from you! Send us a message to contact@left-out.net, or drop us a tweet to @leftoutblog. Leave your message of solidarity in the comments area below.

Where there’s the political will there’s another (Welsh) way

30 Mar

by Hannah Blythyn

This is a short tale of two cities – London and Cardiff – and the ever expanding political gulf between the two. First we go to London, home to the UK Conservative – Liberal Democrat coalition government.  A coalition that is presiding over swingeing cuts – to public sector jobs, pay and pensions, to local services, to the tax credits that many families rely on to make ends meet and much, much more. A government that has hiked up tuition fees to astronomical levels and destroyed the NHS in England as we know it. A Conservative led administration – with the Liberal Democrats complicit in coalition – hell bent on rolling back employment rights on unfair dismissal and access to tribunals and chipping away at the health and safety legislation that protects people from injury or worse in the workplace.

Lest we forget, as unemployment across the UK reaches record highs one of the first acts of the UK coalition in the heady honeymoon days was to axe the Future Jobs Fund. Then this month they announced a freeze in the minimum wage for workers aged 18-21 years old.

They say that there is no alternative to the road they are travelling and the agenda of austerity.  But just a couple of hours away (on the not yet electrified West Coast mainline) we arrive in Cardiff and the base of the Welsh Labour government. This is a government that has been consistent in its principle to keep privatisation out of the NHS, proud to declare “The NHS made in Wales, is safe in Wales”. The same government that unlike their UK counterparts, has refused to raise university tuition fees to £9k a year for Welsh domiciled students and almost immediately after getting elected last year set about bringing in Jobs Growth Wales. Jobs Growth Wales is a £75 million scheme to create 4,000 jobs a year across Wales for unemployed young people aged 16 to 24. Participants are paid at or above the minimum wage for at least 25 hours a week, not simply supporting young people into work but helping Welsh businesses to expand and having a positive knock on effect on the economy as a whole.

This builds on the earlier Welsh government initiatives such as Pro-Act and Re-Act to help employees and employers in the private sector when the recession started to kick in.  The Welsh Government may not have responsibility for employment rights but it places great emphasis on social partnership with the trade unions and is demonstrating a commitment to the social responsibility of employers.

It goes without saying, that in the current economic climate there remain challenges in Wales but devolved politics is demonstrating that it does not have to be the worst of times as the UK coalition would have you believe.

The Welsh Government’s commitment to investing in the next generation and supporting people into decent work, despite existing economic constraints and a dramatically diminished budget from the UK government, is an actual alternative to the austerity and cuts agenda of the UK coalition. Going one step beyond, it makes clear the policy options out there for a future UK Labour administration and flies the flag for more positive and active labour market polices

On that note, I’ll leave the final word to the most senior elected Labour politician in the UK and the Welsh First Minister’s take on the UK government’s mis-handing of the fuel non-strike: http://www.itv.com/news/wales/update/2012-03-29/calm-down-first-minister-tells-uk-government/ 

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