Jon Sopel and Aled ap Dafydd with analysis of the political scene shaping Wales.
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Later in the programme, the Welsh secretary of the Unite union
defends Wednesday's planned public sector strike.
And the Welsh budget deal is done but at what price? The powerbroker,
Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2014 seconds
the Leader of the Lib Dems Kirsty Hello and welcome to the Politics
Show in Wales. Coming up, we'll hear from one of the Welsh budget's
powerbrokers. It would have been unthinkable,
giving it these difficult times, for parties to leave this country
without a budget. But first, as Wednesday draws near it's becoming
clearer how the biggest day of industrial action for a generation
will affect our public services. Airports, courts, government
offices, job centers, schools and council services will be hit. It's
in protest at UK Government plans to make public sector workers
retire later and contribute more to the cost of their pensions. Our
reporter has been talking to Andy Richards, Unite's Wales secretary
and TUC Wales President, at the union's recently refurbished
Cardiff headquarters. The for more than three decades,
this building, formerly known as Transport House in Cardiff, has
been the hub of the labour movement in Wales.
We spent �3.5 million on the building. It really need is
spending. Unite Wales secretary Andy Richards
told me that for years of refurbishment and �3.5 million of
investment had finally tracked the previously down-at-heel
headquarters of trade unions, the Wales TUC and the Welsh Labour
Party into the 21st century. We have a new banner here. This is
the Red Dragon. The banner of Wales. But it was the biggest labour
dispute of this century that we have come to discuss. Andy Richards,
what sort of level of disruption are you expected on Wednesday? What
will public services look like to the public?
Let me just say that we don't wish as a union to have any disruption
at all. If it were possible that we could drag this Westminster
government back to the negotiating table feet-first and kicking, we
possibly wouldn't be having any disruption but we anticipate in
Wales very few public services to be actually working.
What level of public support do you think you have? It is a very
difficult time for people at the moment. They are worried about
their jobs and incomes are being squeezed. Is this the right time
for this level of action? At this point in time, we have got
quite significant growth in public support. That was shown at the June
event that we had when teachers went on strike. As more and more
people come into the knowledge that they are being asked to pay for a
crisis engineered by the heads of the financial institutions, Cameron
and Clegg's makes, and we see the attacks on workers' rights and
trade unions coming forth from the Tories as usual, I think there is
significant growing support. I think a lot of people, our parents,
they see that cutbacks and losses of jobs in support services and so
on, those loss of jobs mean there is going to be nothing for children
when they leave school. As parents, we want better for our children at
that age. People are coming to realise the severity of what this
unelected Tory and Liberal Alliance are doing.
One of the criticisms we are seeing from government is that public
sector workers have pensions that people in the private sector could
only dream of. Gold-plated pensions is what we hear. Can you give us an
idea of the level of pension we are talking about amongst your members?
Absolutely. Gold-plated? They are more like a brass plate it as far
as our members are concerned. Our members in public services
generally can expect a pension of between 70 and �80 per week when
they retire. That is the vast majority of our members. There are
the small section of employees who are on greater pensions but if you
are asking me the majority of Unite union members, that is the actual
level we are talking about. It is a fact that is being glossed over by
this particular government. One of the issues you have got his
the turnout level in at the ballot. 31 % of your members actually voted
at all. Surely that is a problem for you that fewer than a third
actually turned out and voted. Let me let you in on a little
secret and the West -- and the rest of the Welsh nation. The reason we
only have those turnouts in ballots is a result of people not are not
supporting the union's line but in the main, people don't like to post
a ballot paper back. You can't say that out of all the people that
have underrated, they would have voted against the strike. Our
indications given the polls we are doing that Unite, they show that
most of them would have supported the strike. If David Cameron is
saying that all of those people who didn't vote in the ballot would
have voted in father, it follows that all those people who didn't
vote for him would have voted for Labour? I don't think so. We have
to be realistic. 31 %, given the ballot process, is not ideal but it
is realistic and we can proceed with this dispute.
Thank you. Earlier I spoke to Labour's Nia
Griffiths and the Conservative Alun Cairns. I began by asking him for
his reaction to what the unions are saying. I don't accept that. What
frustrates me and disappoints me more than anything is that
negotiations are ongoing and what sort of negotiations do you have
when there is a strike hanging over you? It is worth remembering that
the ballot was conducted generally for most of the unions in September.
Just two weeks ago, at the beginning of November, the
government offered a very generous concession in relation to the
pension to improve it for lower earners and to protect the pensions
for anyone who retires in the next 10 years. A significant shift on
behalf of the government a few weeks ago but yet the unions are
driving home strike action on Wednesday which could tip the
economy over the edge into recession. That is what worries me.
Nia Griffiths, negotiations are ongoing. Why walk away from the
table now and why not give ground, seeing that the government has made
compromise already? What sort of negotiators have we
got? We have got megaphone negotiations with one thing being
said, we will withdraw this offer if you don't call off your stride
immediately, and a publication on the government's own website of a
table which shows people are going to have 20 % cuts when the
government is telling them they won't have those cuts. People don't
have much faith when they see that happening. The government has had
months and months to be round the table with unions on this. In 2000
date, we bit the bullet and sorted things out. -- 2008. It was sorted
out by negotiation. We never came to a stage like this. We have 33
unions. Some very, very moderate unions and people who have never
been on strike. A whole range of public sector workers who are
extremely frustrated. The majority of them on not
bothering to vote? The answer to that is what Andy
said. We are all very, very busy. People have jobs and families.
There wasn't the hype in the media we now have won the ballot was
being done. A lot of this debate is centred
around the gold-plated pensions. Where is the fairness in cutting
the pensions of people who will be retiring on �4,000 per year or?
That will relate to the salary level those people would have
earned as well as the amount of years they would have contributed.
Under the significant concession that was offered a couple of weeks
ago, it would protect anyone and improved the penchant for anyone
earning up to �15,000 a year and protect the interests of people
earning up to �21,000 per year so the lowest earners would be
protected and have better contributions. Anyone within 10
years of retirement would be preserved and have exactly the same
sort of pension they get now. That leave it the other a group of
people that earned a lot more money. That gives them the opportunity to
increase their contributions to insure they have their pensions for
much longer because people are living longer.
Do you believe everyone in the public sector is retiring on a
gold-plated pensions? Under the terms of the pension, yes.
Everyone in the public sector? Compared to the amount of
contributions... That would be their salary that they would have
earned and it would relate to their salary.
�15,000 per year retiring on �4,000 a year? Is that there?
If you are someone in the private sector earning that sum of money,
they wouldn't even have that level of benefit that people in the
public sector are getting so why don't have an issue with public
sector workers themselves. I have an issue with union leaders are
hell-bent on striking whatever the issue may be. That goes to show
that huge concessions offered by the government a few weeks ago but
they are determined to drive the strike home. The most delicate
thing about this is the economy. It really does will be made at �500
million, this strike will cost the economy, and she may drive a number
of businesses in Wales and across the UK out of business.
The Labour Party is in a pickle. You are so reliant on the unions
for many -- for money and yet you are coming out and saying that
people have the right to go on strike. It seems contradictory.
I think we should all defend the right to strike. Let us look at the
actual facts. The government has admitted this is a 3% tax. It is a
tax, they have said, to help pay back the deficit. They recognise
the pension thing was sorted out in 2008. You have people on low
incomes losing �30 a month. People on average incomes are losing �90 a
month. That is a lot of money went fewer and fewer -- fuel prices are
rocketing. Money is being taken out of the economy and that money is
actually going to send a lot of private businesses spiralling to
have a. These generalities are not accurate.
A teacher retiring on �32,000 a year will amass after they have
worked for 40 years a pension funds equivalent to �600,000. That is a
generality. I am not using this figure to counteract what Nia
Griffiths is saying. I want to say we should protect the contributions
of lowest earners and protect the worms are due to retire shortly.
Can we move on to the Autumn Statement? One of the headlines is
a new package of stimulus for small to medium-sized enterprises and a
loan guarantee from the government. Is that going to be enough, bearing
in mind that on average there are 1,200 people being made unemployed
everyday? The economy is in a very difficult
situation, in spite of the deficit reduction plans we have got. A
quarter of every penny spent on salaries of public sector workers,
a quarter of it is being borrowed, amounting to one of the �20 million
a day on interest on the debt only. -- one under �20 million. It is
about trying to get confidence in the market and getting money out of
small businesses so they can plan and expand. It has to be taken into
account of the context of the wider economy around the world but
particularly what happens in the euro-zone because I wouldn't mind
betting some of the euro-zone countries won't be by Christmas.
This is similar to the loan guarantee scheme which Labour
announced back in 2008. We be supporting it?
We want to see measures like this coming forward. I worry it is too
little too late. The government has to make sure this lending to small
businesses happens. Edwina Hart in Wales has promised �55 million for
small businesses in Wales. We recognise the desperate need for
helping small businesses to help the private economy grow, to help
people create jobs. From the Chancellor we need larger measures
as well to increase public confidence.
We have to end it there, I am afraid. Nia Griffiths, Alun Cairns,
Thank you. So, the deal's been done, the Liberal Democrats have signed
up to the Welsh Government's budget. In return for Lib Dem support,
Labour have agreed to agreed to what's described as an economic
stimulus package to protect jobs and will spend an extra �20 million
on the country's poorer pupils. The Liberal Democrats said that a
proper funded people premium would be �40 million. As I understand it
and we have just had the announcement, this is a �20 million
announcement so this must be people premium light.
The Liberals can show they are doing something but the Labour
government has been spending the past six months condemning the
Liberals for their policies in London. Obviously, they needed a
partner and they have got one. But they have got one at a cheap price.
We didn't know what Plaid Cymru wanted for weeks. We understood
what they wanted in the end but it was too expensive. This is an
agreement to secure a budget for the people of Wales. It was done
after a lot of detailed negotiation and what is important is we can
look forward to securing the financial basis for Wales in the
year to come. And the Welsh Liberal Democrat
leader, Kirsty Williams, joins me now.
The people premium, as it is called, had a �40 million price tag
attached to it. This is not the people premium, therefore.
Of course, if the Welsh Liberal Democrats had won the election in
May, we could have implemented the policy in full. Let us be clear,
because of what we have been able to negotiate with the Labour Party,
the money is more than doubled to go to the poorest children. An
additional �20 million. A package of �32 million which will make a
difference to the children who are not reaching their full potential.
Only one in five of the children that receive free school meals go
on to get five good GCSEs including maths and English. If we are to
avoid the Welsh economy suffering in the decades to come, we have to
upscale our workforce. This is the beginning of that programme.
Transforming the chances. Under the people premium, the money,
as I understood it, followed the child through their education. Can
we take it for granted you have achieved a deal with the Labour
government that will see this money continuing beyond this year?
Obviously, the vote is on this year's budget. I am confident that
when the documents are published next week, we will see an ongoing
commitment to those poorest children. This money, you are right,
will follow the child whether they are in primary or secondary school
and will go directly to the schools, allowing head teachers and
classroom teachers to decide how best to support those children.
The money will have to continue, otherwise, if more teachers are
employed through the people premium, they will have to be made
unemployed? It would be an unwise government
who would take this money away from our poorest children, who need it
the most, so we can transform their chances and so that in years to
come we will not be looking at these terrible statistics. We know
that for years the Welsh economy has been based on cheap labour. We
can't compete on that basis any more because there will always be
countries in the Far East that will be cheaper. We need a prosperous
economy in future and unless we tackle the problems facing our
economy and put in place plans and policies to tackle some of this
structural problems in the Welsh economy, we will never see the
country move forward. Why not plough all of this money
into a stimulus package? There is a stimulus package the
details of which will be announced tomorrow. �38 million coming down
from the Westminster government which will go into stimulating the
economy in the next months to come. It is important to be able to plan
for future generations. Otherwise, we will constantly have governments
struggling to deal with the here and now and Wales is rest -- is
poorer than the rest of the UK and it is incumbent on politicians to
put in place policies to insure that in future, our economy will be
in a stronger position to resist international economic crisis or
downturns in the economy. The politics of this might lead
someone to take the view that it is a relief for you to have an
association with read -- with Labour after a close working
relationships with your party and the Conservatives in Westminster?
It demonstrates that the Liberal Democrats are working to work with
other -- are willing to work with other political parties when the
country needs it. When we didn't have a majority at Westminster
level, we provided stability. Willing to work on the cheap
according to Plaid Cymru? There is something depressingly
predictable about the reaction of the other parties. It would have
been inconceivable for this country at this difficult time not to have
a budget that his past. We have played a part in that, providing
that stability and creating an economic stimulus package and
fulfilling our manifesto commitment to get resources to our poorest
students. Can we end of the sad news that the
first -- the Football Association of Wales have announced the death
of the national team manager, Gary Speed, at the age of 42. What is
your reaction to that sad news. It is a terrible, terrible shock
and a tragedy for his family and a tragedy for Welsh football. He has
only been manager for a fraught period of time but has made a big
impact. We have seen that some great results and people across
Wales will be very shocks today. Thank you. I am sure Alan year's