Swansea workers unite to fight back
RMT and PCS members co-ordinate rally with trades council
Swansea Socialist Party members took solidarity to picket lines of two unions in three Swansea workforces on Saturday before joining an excellent rally of RMT and PCS members, co ordinated by Swansea Trades Council.
RMT members in First Great Western followed up their action last Saturday with a three day strike over the bank holiday. There were pickets out at the engineering depot and at Swansea Station, where we caught up to them. FGW want to cut guards and buffet cars from trains.
Addressing the rally, branch secretary Owen Herbert pointed out that these proposed changes threaten the safety of passengers and the quality of service received. Socialist Party member Ruth Williams in offering her support to the strikers, stressed the importance of keeping guards and other staff on trains for disabled people for many of whom train travel could otherwise become inaccessible. As the new RMT banner puts it, "defend jobs, services and safety".
Supporters of the PCS pickets at the DVLA Call Centre seemed to far outnumber those going in to work. This was the second of three days of action (the third is on Tuesday) for PCS members in DVLA over plans to reduce unsocial hours' payments. Call Centre worker Steph Bennett, told the rally that managers drafted in to cover the strike, who don't work on the phones, will be severely struggling during the action.
The National Waterfront Museum was shut because of the strike action by PCS members in seven sites of Amgueddfa Cymru /National Museums of Wales. Here management plan to get rid of unsocial hours' payments altogether. PCS Amgueddfa Cymru Branch Secretary Peter Hill, explained that this would mean an effective 25% pay cut for some workers. Like all the strikers in each dispute, Peter stressed the determination of the strikers to see the dispute through.
The Tories and bosses may thought that they would be in for an easy ride after winning the election but the determination shown by these and other strikers shows that they are mistaken. The votes for action in all three of these disputes would have meet even the thresholds proposed in the Tories' new anti-strike bill - an answer to the pessimism of everybody that says that it is impossible to fight. Strikers drew strength from each other and from the pledges of support from trade unionists and others who had come to offer solidarity. Everybody felt that the best chances of winning in every dispute is if we all strike together.
After the Swansea Trades Council strike rally Mike Gard, treasurer of the Swansea Visteon Pensioners Action Group, who successfully fought Fords to recover stolen pensions for Visteon workers, presented a cheque for £1405.27 to the officers of the Trades Council.
Mike said "We have wound up our campaign fund and our VPAG officers agreed to donate the final amount to Swansea Trades Council in recognition of the support they gave us during our long campaign.
Alec Thraves, representing Swansea Trades Council, attended almost every meeting over five years as well as joining us in solidarity on our numerous protests, lobbies and demos. Swansea Trades Council even put us at the head of their May Day march through the city centre one year which gave us a huge boost. We felt this donation would help the Trades Council to assist other workers in struggle in the same way as they helped us".
Ronnie Job, Secretary Swansea Trades Council
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