Sam Murray, GPTU International Officer and Wales Green Party member, calls on Trade Unionists in Wales to #ShakeUpTheSenedd on 5th May and vote Green
Over the course of this election campaign trade unionists have seen threats to the public services and commercial industries increase, and the risk of job losses increase. This election will be about how to protect public service workers in disputes, how to protect healthcare and how to plan for the future of industry across the country. It will also be about wellbeing and culture, with the growth of those working in the creative sector. As the country heads to the polls, an innovative option is on the cards with the Wales Green Party standing a strong chance in securing its first assembly members.
One industrial crisis has shaped all election coverage: Tata Steel. Within the chaos of the Tata Steel crisis there has been a sensible voice in the debate, Alice Hooker-Stroud, leader of Wales Green Party. She has made some rather radical suggestions to solve the crisis calling for co-operative public ownership of the plant, local procurement and the transition of the plant to using sustainable production methods whilst manufacturing steel for building renewable energy infrastructure such as wind and wave turbines.
Wales has been somewhat shielded from the Junior Doctors strikes but there is no doubt the Welsh NHS is in crisis. Workers need to be assured they won’t be seeing the service subject to PFIs or, if Welsh Tory leader Andrew RT Davies becomes first minister, a privatised NHS. Amongst the messy policies based around restructurings and quangos the Welsh Greens want to take a more practical approach: preventative care. Wales Greens want to see care in the community, tackle addiction, and place a stronger emphasis on treating mental health through the combination of health and social care.
Over the past few months a cultural voice has been defined and nuanced in Cardiff and is fast spreading across the country. In February the Cardiff Without Culture? Movement took to the streets to protest Labour-led council cuts to the arts. The movement inspired thousands to join a New Orleans funeral march to save culture. The march was attended by a large contingent of unions including equity, the MU, BECTU and the PCS. The Wales Green Party joined the creatives and arts lovers on the streets; Labour, however, did not participate. The Wales Green Party has also offered solidarity to national museum workers facing job losses and wage cuts. One PCS member commented on the picket lines how they felt abandoned by Labour and welcomed the support visit by Amelia Womack, deputy leader of the Green Party of England & Wales and lead-list candidate for South Wales Central.
Wales Green Party believes culture is vital to our humanity and that it shouldn’t be financed purely for economic output but rather for the wellbeing it provides. We support creative industries as crucial to the future of the country and have some pretty radical ideas to finance their development. One idea we have is the so-called Beyoncé-tax on superstar performances, taking a levy on their pay to provide funding for creative and cultural enterprises and education programmes. We also want to support the public heritage sector ensuring fair wages for all workers.
Wales has been a traditional domain for Labour, and this is likely to continue unless we can provide reasonable opposition for working people in the Senedd. The Greens can be that voice. Whilst many Trade Unionist voters will wish to back a new Corbynite Labour, they should take stock of Welsh Labour and be under no illusions about Carwyn Jones, a Blairite. Trade Unionists who vote Labour must also recognise that their regional list vote is wasted on the party who are likely to win most constituency seats across Wales, making it almost impossible for them to pick up list seats – particularly in regions like South Wales Central. They should consider giving the Wales Green Party their list vote to add another set of voices on their side and to keep out UKIP who used Wales as a playground for washed-up corrupt former Tories who see the Welsh Assembly as a gravy train.
When you cast your regional vote consider backing the Welsh Greens to add more pro-Trade Union voices to the Senedd, and who won’t be afraid to stand up to Welsh Labour when they get it wrong.