Unison vows to fight £31m cuts by Carmarthenshire Plaid council

Carmarthenshire Unison branch has attacked the decision of Plaid-led Carmarthenshire County Council to impose £31 million cuts on the county.

Mark Evans, secretary of the Carmarthenshire Unison, also slammed the sham consultation that Carmarthenshire and other councils are employing. Speaking to the Western Mail Evans said: “This is a sham consultation where most of the decisions have already been made and the public and employees’ only option is to choose what cuts they want. It’s a choice between the devil and the deep blue sea”.

He spelt out what the effects of the cuts will be:“£31 million cuts over the next three years will devastate services and jobs.

“Many services have only survived thus far due to the hard work of employees who as a result are stressed out.

“Little wonder when 20% of the workforce has gone in a few years and those that remain have to do their own work and the work of those that have left.

“Councillors have a choice: organise and mobilise to fight the cuts with the Unison and the other trade unions or continue to inflict pain and misery as the administrators of Tory cuts

“Many of our members are using food banks, getting into debt to pay for the basics, working four or more jobs and on benefits just to make ends meet. Our Unison branch will be organising to fight these cuts in and outside the workplace.

“The future of local government jobs and vital services is at stake and we will not flinch from defending these and the communities we live in.

Carmarthenshire Unison have consistently argued that the council, whether Plaid-led or Labour-led, should refuse to carry out cuts and set a no cuts budget in line with the policy of the Wales TUC. 

“A genuine consultation would offer no cuts but of course this would be premised on Plaid – who don’t forget are ‘the anti-austerity party’ – wanting to fight Tory cuts but they are too busy appearing to be responsible and making excuses for not defending services.”

Plaid attacks no-cuts budgets

In their defence Plaid Cymru used exactly the same arguments as the Blairite Labour councillors across Wales to justify implementing the cuts – “This is a totally irresponsible and naive statement by an Unison officer.

“Does he realise what the consequences of failing to set a budget, or setting an illegal budget, would be?

“There would be Government intervention, with possible mass redundancies, school budget and social care cuts etc.

“Decisions would be taken out of our hands as councillors elected by the people of Carmarthenshire.”

In fact these arguments of both Plaid and Welsh Labour council members against no cuts budgets are false. Those arguing for no cuts budgets, like Carmarthenshire Unison, the Unison and Unite Local Government committees and the Socialist Party, have never called for councils to refuse to set budgets or to set illegal budgets.

Instead they have called for councils to set budgets that do not cut further the services of their communities and link up with other councils and the Welsh government to fight for the necessary funding from what is a very weak and divided Tory government. In the meantime while the council is campaigning for extra funding they should draw on reserves and prudential borrowing to fund the current level of services.

There could be no threat of government intervention. In fact even if there were in Wales it would be an intervention by the Welsh government who would find it very difficult to impose the Tory cuts on communities fighting them. This scarecrow, used by both Plaid and Labour councillors to frighten workers who want to fight the cuts, is being used to allow them push through cuts rather than fight austerity.

Plaid attacked the policies of Jeremy Corbyn during the general election for being too radical: “Labour are making promises even though they know they will never be able to keep them – next they’ll be promising free kittens to every voter.”

But that does not stop them from using Corbyn when it suits them “I would also remind Unison, which contributes millions of pounds to Labour party coffers, that Jeremy Corbyn recently warned Labour-controlled councils not to set ‘no cuts’ budgets.”

Clearly Jeremy Corbyn made a big mistake in trying to placate the Blairite Labour councillors by opposing no cuts budgets, which Plaid (and Tory) councillors can now use to justify cutting services and jobs.