Welsh May Day celebrations of workers' struggles
"May Day, Our Day!"
Across Wales socialists and trade unionists rallied for May Day, the traditional day of solidarity for working people across the world.
In Cardiff 250 marched across the city centre to a rally in the Temple of Peace which opened with a minute applause in memory of Bob Crow and Tony Benn. Cerith Griffiths, Wales Chair of the Fire Brigades Union, outlined the current struggle of fire-fighters to defend their pensions before leaving the rally with his comrades to join picket lines as FBU members walked out in the second day in the three days of industrial action.
There were inspiring speeches from Steve Skelly from the RMT and Fran Heathcote from the PCS who outlined the struggle of their members. Steve Skelly lambasted the Tories but also Labour, calling for support for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition in most elections and for No2EU - Yes to Workers Rights in the European elections.
In Swansea Socialist Party members joined other trade unionists for Swansea Trades Council’s May Day rally. Together we honoured the memory of Bob Crow and Tony Benn by committing ourselves to continue their fight for socialism.
Tyrone O'Sullivan was the first guest speaker, South Wales NUM during the miners' strike and leader of the workers' co-operative at Tower Colliery. Tower colliery as Tyrone explained, proved not only that Tory lies about the viability of the coal industry were just that - lies, but also that workers can run their industries better than the bosses. Tyrone was adamant that the miners' could have defeated Thatcher 30 years ago but for the betrayal of Labour leaders like Kinnock. Despite being, in his words, "a Labour man all my life", Tyrone reserved his bitterest words for the Blair/Brown government, "Labour had three terms in office, three terms in office and did bugger all!".
Swansea West Labour MP, Geraint Davies, congratulated the Visteon Pensions Action Group (VPAG), which, after 5 years hard campaigning, may be close to achieving a measure of justice. Plaid Cymru AM, Bethan Jenkins, was unable to be there in person but had sent greetings and passed on her congratulations to the campaigners as well. VPAG members are considering an offer and are legally bound not to discuss the details or campaign on the issue while the offer is under consideration but representative Mike Guard, thanked local politicians, trades unionists and the Trades Council for the support they have received in the last 5 years. Geraint Davies also spoke out against those that have attempted to bring racist division to the City recently - the National Front and then Nigel Farage and UKIP.
Continuing the theme of opposing racism was Swansea Socialist Party Branch Secretary, Claire Job, representing No2EU - yes to workers' rights. Claire linked the fight against racist division with the need for a united campaign to end the poverty and misery that racism breeds off as she called for a united campaign of 'Jobs and Services Not Racism'. Unlike our Labour MP, who said Wales needs the EU, Claire explained that the fight to defeat austerity involves fighting against the "bosses club" that is the EU. The EU, Claire said, as well as driving privatisation of public services like the NHS and inflicting austerity and misery on millions across Europe, allows employers to get round locally agreed union rates of pay or terms and conditions by exempting migrant workers and allowing them to be paid less. We might fight for the union rate for the job, regardless of the origin of the workers, Claire said.
Dave Reid and Ronnie Job
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