Our branch committee has consistently warned our members that the cuts made by the Con-Dems and implemented by Labour Led Carmarthenshire County Council were the thin end of the wedge. The scale of the cuts (£30m over the next three years) recently announced by the council will have come as no shock to our members who read our regular newsletter and other information we produce. We told our members that cuts to Local Authority spending had been back loaded by the Labour led Welsh Assembly and that massive cuts were to come though of course we did not have the detail then.
We have always opposed all cuts firstly because there is no need for cuts in the first place as there is plenty of wealth out there-look no further than the rich and big business. The rich have got richer and big business has around £800 billion lying idle in its coffers as they can’t see a profitable place to invest. Meanwhile food banks, cash your pay checks, pawn and charity shops inhabit our high streets. Through cuts to their terms and conditions our members and their families are suffering hardship and poverty in growing numbers. Most have to work harder and are under more pressure in work as employees are not replaced when they leave or vacancies are not filled resulting in more and more suffering with stress and stress related illnesses. All this and for a financial crisis we did not cause. Why should our members and the people of Carmarthenshire suffer for the crisis of the banks and Capitalism.
We have also opposed all cuts because the cuts Carmarthenshire County Council have implemented thus far were never going to be enough and the employer was always going to be coming back for more given the scale of the cuts coming from Westminster. The Con-Dems clearly want to dismantle, destroy or privatise as much of the public sector as they can. A document produced by the HR Directors Network in Wales called ‘Facing the Future together’ starkly pointed out the scale of the cuts that were coming. They calculated in the next four years (2013-2017) £520 million would be cut from Local Authority budgets in Wales. Another paper produced by the Institute for Fiscal Studies Scenarios for the Welsh Government Budget to 2025-26 again paints a stark and bleak future for Local Authorities/Public Services in Wales. They calculate that even with the most optimistic economic forecasts we will be suffering cuts even then.
The reality is well before this time if cuts are allowed to continue at their present rate there will be very little left of non-statutory services left to cut by then. We have always advocated fighting all cuts. We are not prepared to allow our members to be thrown on the scrapheap; we are not prepared to let the people of Carmarthenshire and vulnerable service users have their quality of life seriously eroded.
We call on this Labour Led council to make a stand, stand shoulder to shoulder with their hard working employees; launch a mass campaign alongside the trade unions and the people of Carmarthenshire to refuse to implement the cuts. Use your reserves if you need time to build the campaign. Set a budget that meets the needs of Carmarthenshire and demand the return of the monies stolen from Carmarthenshire County Council’s budget. We want less hand wringing and far more fight. As far as our branch is concerned there is one popular choice that Councillors can make that is to oppose and fight all cuts. If they did this we would support them all the way. We as a branch will mobilise our membership to oppose all cuts to jobs, services and terms and conditions.