Welsh Labour Leadership - Eluned Morgan AM 4 Oct 2018

The Labour Government in Wales has maintained a good relationship with the GMB and our Welsh Trade Union movement. 

But by the next election we need to collectively look different, sound different and offer something different to the people of Wales. I believe that with your support and the political experience I have gained by representing Wales in Europe, Nationally in Westminster and now in the Assembly that I can deliver as the leader of our Party here in Wales. 

Work on behalf of the Trade Union Movement

I have been an active supporter of the trade union movement since I was a BECTU member in the BBC. I hosted countless trade union visitors to Brussels when I was a Welsh Labour MEP for 15 years, and have always fought for worker’s rights even when I was under intense pressure by the then Labour Government on occasions to undermine them. An example, the Working Time Directive, where the UK Government wanted to secure an-opt out to the 48 hour week, a decision with which I fundamentally disagreed. Breaking the Labour whip is not something I do often, and this was only one of three occasions where I felt it was necessary.

One of my proudest achievements on behalf of the Trade Union movement was to help lead a full scale attack on the Trade Union Bill in the House of Lords. Whilst we could not stop the bill in its entirety, it was only as a result of our victories there that we were able to introduce our own Trade Union law in Wales.

Experience on the shop floor

I am intensely aware that people are sceptical of politicians who have limited experience outside of politics.  On leaving the European Parliament, I deliberately sought a position in industry to gain a better understanding of the private sector in Wales. I was successful in establishing the £7m SWALEC Smart Centre in Treforest. Based in the middle of a call centre, I was able to gain a real understanding of the in-work pressures that thousands of trade unionists across Wales encounter.  But I also gained an understanding that most union members come from large businesses and organisations. With that experience, I feel that I am able to challenge and debate with confidence company bosses wherever I see injustice.

Policy Priorities

Our economic performance will determine our future prosperity. Growing our economy is my top priority. Unless we increase the wealth of workers and the country, we will have to cut our public services and manage decline as new tax powers come to the Assembly.  

We must ensure that we can fund our public services. The pay deals negotiated with the NHS should be honoured in particular for those in highly stressful work who may suffer more periods of sickness.

As the Minister with responsibility for the Employability Plan and the Wales Union Learning Fund (WULF) in the Welsh Government I am determined to focus on what I believe to be the priorities confronting us.

Brexit

A ‘no deal’ Brexit would be catastrophic for workers in Wales. We must do all we can to stop this and offer a Peoples Vote. We cannot pretend that that People’s vote would be easy to win. Together, we must spell out to Trade Union members the impact that No Deal would have on their jobs and living standards. My international contacts would be invaluable however if the worst were to happen.

The need to upskill in work and prepare for automation

For 10 years most people have not had a decent pay rise. We must improve incomes and cut in work poverty. The WULF is a great example of how we can achieve this, but we need to go further.  I’m seeking to introduce a pilot programme on Individual Learning Accounts for people in work to upskill or retrain in areas where we know that there are skills shortages.  As leader, I will make upskilling a Welsh Government priority.

The Centre for Cities suggest we will need to replace 110,000 jobs in Wales by 2030 as a result of automation. We must prepare now, mapping the skills and progression pathways needed to train new and existing workers, ready for the jobs of the future.

Supporting disabled people

Just 46% of disabled people in Wales are employed. These are people who often have the skills but are deprived of the opportunity to work because of discrimination. Introducing quotas for disabled people in public services and for those in receipt of public funding would go a long way to tackling this issue.

Work towards paying the living wage

I will ensure that the Welsh Government commits to working towards paying the Living Wage for all Welsh Government employees including those in the care service as we have already done in the health service.

A new approach to enforcing the minimum wage laws

Not one employer in Wales has been prosecuted for non-enforcement of the minimum wage laws, yet we know it is happening.  I’ll encourage HMRC, the CPS and our Police Commissioners to do more to increase enforcement and prosecution of minimum wage laws to protect Welsh workers.

Equal respect for academic and vocational students and workers

We spend too much of our time and money on the 50% who go to university and not enough on encouraging vocational routes into higher level qualifications. This would change if I were elected leader.

Focus on women’s issues

I will campaign to end workplace discrimination against women especially those with caring responsibilities, women suffering menstrual problems or during the menopause.

Why #ElectEluned?

I am a candidate who will have my focus not on how we redistribute the cake, but on making a bigger cake. I will look beyond the bubble of Cardiff Bay, a Welsh speaker who can and will reach out to all parts of Wales.

I am the candidate who will use my experience of working in industry and with the trade union movement to better the conditions for workers in Wales.

I am the candidate who has 15 years of expertise in European issues which will be essential if Brexit happens, to rebuild relationships with our partners across the continent. 

I am the candidate with whom many women in Wales will be able to relate, a working mother who juggles and keeps all the plates spinning at the same time!

It’s time for a Welsh mam to lead Wales!

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As a GMB member you can join the Labour Party for only £1.80 a month, that's only £21.50 a year. You can join the Labour Party immediately online now. Just visit http://tujoin.labour.org.uk/tu or download a Labour Party application form.

You can read the other candidate statements to GMB from Vaughan Gething AM and Mark Drakeford AM.