Trade unionists must now confront the reality in front of them, that the UK Government is trying to undermine their rights, and there is little the Welsh Government can do to protect them.

An Attack on Democracy

For those who don’t know, the UK Government is proposing to overturn 2017 Welsh legislation, to lift a ban on agency workers entering Welsh Government employment areas.

This would mean that agency workers could be brought in to replace striking workers in Wales. Agency workers would be used to undermine a strike. This is a direct interference by the UK Government in Welsh Government policy making.

I’ll be blunt - this is an attack not just on Welsh democracy, but worker democracy.

I’m not going to spend the rest of this piece writing about the history of industrial action in Wales, nor the fact that Wales has the highest rates of union density in the UK, nor the reasons why agency workers shouldn’t undermine strikes. Instead, I want to focus on the anti-democratic situation infront of us and how it’s vital that Trade Unionists fight back against this.

Power

My question to you, the reader, is: How does the Welsh Government stop the UK Government undermining Welsh democracy, and thereby worker democracy?

Anyone experienced in campaigning will tell you that, to answer this question, it’s important to think about what power you have and how you use that power.

Wales has very little power to resist the UK Government.

What can they do now? A strongly worded letter?! A stern interview?! A legislative consent memorandum that the UK Government can ignore?!

Yet we are continually told, by those in the Welsh Labour Party, that we are “better together”, as part of the (political) union. I struggle to see how this logic holds.

How can Mark Drakeford honestly say that we are better in the union, when the UK Government is directly undermining his own legislation and values?

A Solution?

If the Welsh Parliament can be ignored by the UK Government, if elected Welsh politicians can be ignored by the UK Government and if workers rights can be eroded at a moments notice, then how can any worker have the confidence to take industrial action to defend themselves, when their own (Welsh) Government cant even take action to defend itself?

Welsh trade unionists must heed this call to think about how they can bring workplace democracy and political democracy closer to ordinary people.

Welsh trade unionists must think about how they can create the best conditions for the working people of Wales to use their industrial power.

We must think radically. Independence must be on the table.

Harriet Protheroe - Soltani is a Labour For An Independent Wales - Committee Member