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Year 2001 No. 206, December 3, 2001 ARCHIVE HOME SEARCH SUBSCRIBE

Plaid Cymru:

Wales Is Being Left Out In the Cold

Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index :

Plaid Cymru:
Wales Is Being Left Out In the Cold

Study Finds Women in Wales Still Face Pay Disparity

Palestinian Leadership Condemns Israeli Escalation

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Plaid Cymru:

Wales Is Being Left Out In the Cold

The government's failure to assist the crisis in Welsh industry was criticised by Dafydd Wigley, Shadow Finance Minister in the Welsh Assembly.

Dafydd Wigley was responding to the absence in Chancellor Gordon Brown's pre-budget statement of November 27 of any regional incentives to help economic recovery in Wales. The following day, in a meeting of the Economic Development Committee, Dafydd Wigley also launched an attack on the absence of operating aids and tax concessions specific for regions outside the profitable south east of England. He argued that Rhodri Morgan has failed to negotiate any deals to avoid the jobs meltdown that is threatening Wales at the moment, and that the Assembly's Economic Strategy is way off course as a result.

Speaking following Gordon Brown's statement, Dafydd Wigley said: "There is no good news here for Wales and our communities under threat from job cuts. 850 jobs have been axed in north Wales in the past two months with more on the way. There is a cloud of fear hanging over the Broughton wing-making plant. The Assembly government's economic strategy is a non-starter and offers no solutions to the problems ahead. Today's statement confirms that Blair's government is turning its back on Wales."

Elfyn Llwyd, Plaid Cymru Parliamentary Leader and MP for Meirionnydd Nant Conwy, said of the pre-budget statement that it "offered no targeted assistance to the grave structural problems of the Welsh economy. Bearing in mind the shrinkage of the manufacturing base, and the collapse of the rural economy, very little has been offered to ease the burdens of these core industries. New Labour has been to manufacturing and the rural economy what Thatcher was to the coalmines."

Plaid Cymru's Treasury Spokesperson and MP for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, Adam Price, added, "This statement was a real opportunity to get the Chancellor to address the chronic problems facing the nations and regions of the UK – the meltdown in manufacturing and the rural economy on the one hand and years of underfunding in public services on the other. He did neither. Where we need a policy to transform the prospects of our economy and our public services, Gordon Brown tinkered with the fine print.

"Investment in public services is at a 25-year low, and spending on education in the first term of this government was the lowest for 40 years. Germany spends 50% more than the UK on health and has twice as many doctors. The Government had to commission research from a director of NatWest to confirm what patients have been telling them for years – that the NHS is in need of a massive boost of public investment, and needs to catch up with the rest of Europe.

"Above all, we needed a package of targeted tax incentives for global investors and local businesses within the objective one areas. What we got are tax breaks for large companies and short term investors which will further widen the gap between the prosperous south east of England and the rest of the UK. Once again, Objective One, far from being a much needed boost is fast turning into another wasted opportunity."

These sentiments expressed by Plaid Cymru come not only as an immediate response to Gordon Brown’s pre-budget statement, but to the way New Labour views the nations and regions which go to make up the British state. This is particularly relevant at this time in view both of the deepening economic crisis and of the government’s stand on nations and states, issues which have come to the fore after September 11. The government is pursuing the doctrine of limitations on the sovereignty of states just at the time when the G7 are mandating the IMF to treat states as corporations which may be viable one the one hand or heading towards bankruptcy on the other. The international financial oligarchy and its political representatives are working to snuff out any conception that modern states should achieve self-sufficiency as their number one objective and at the same time forge economic, political and other relationships on the basis of equality and mutual benefit. With this programme of annexationism being intensified globally, it is not surprising that the Labour government is working to eradicate the conception of modern sovereign states of England, Scotland and Wales when it comes to Britain. This is also the programme of the EU, which is working to strengthen its reactionary union, while recognising Scotland and Wales as no more than "regions".

A recent Early Day Motion tabled by certain Westminster MPs sought to "catch out", as it were, Plaid Cymru by claiming that they really wanted "independence" for Wales when stating that Wales was seeking "self-government". It was as if "independence" were the worst crime imaginable, and the motion was consistent with the separation of Wales from Britain being raised as a spectre to crush any development of the process of self-government.

Plaid Cymru President Ieuan Wyn Jones, speaking at the opening of Plaid Cymru's special conference on the party's constitution and standing orders in Builth Wells on Saturday, November 24, condemned what he called Labour's "devolution dinosaurs" led by Welsh Secretary Paul Murphy for their refusal to see the need for greater powers for the National Assembly.

Ieuan Wyn Jones said: "Paul Murphy is clearly out of touch with the growing feeling in Wales, and within his own party in the National Assembly. Those of us who have to work within the current settlement see its obvious flaws and a growing number of Labour AMs are coming out to support a law-making Parliament, because they are frustrated at the Assembly's failure to deliver in key policy areas. Paul Murphy and the 'dinosaur tendency' in the Labour Party are being left behind in this debate."

During the conference, the Plaid Cymru president called on party members to focus their efforts on the 2003 National Assembly election and on securing a parliament with real powers for Wales. He said, "This conference marks the end of a lengthy process of clarifying our constitutional objectives as a party. It is now time to begin the process of turning that vision into a reality. We are all agreed on our immediate aim of a parliament for Wales on the Scottish model, and our long-term objective of full national status in the EU. We are also equally aware that we will have to achieve the former before any of our longer term aspirations can be within our reach."

"That is why that the priority for the immediate future must be to secure for Wales a law-making parliament with tax-varying powers like Scotland, that will have full responsibility for all devolved matters. We will make this our central plank for the 2003 National Assembly election," Ieuan Wyn Jones continued. "We must also be able to demonstrate a clear vision of what we would do for the people of Wales if we had such a parliament. We will have to win that election on bread and butter issues as well as on the principle that Wales should have the same rights as Scotland. That is why we are preparing a detailed programme for government that could deliver for the people of Wales. And we will show why we need such power to bring about better public services for Wales."

WDIE fully supports the demand of the Welsh people and their political representatives for the full expression of their sovereignty. This is their right, as it is of any people, and its recognition would right a long-standing and deep-seated historical injustice. For the working class throughout Britain to champion this right will strengthen its unity and contribute to building the workers’ opposition to the programme of intervention and annexation which the British government and the financial oligarchy world-wide are championing and carrying through.

Article Index

Study Finds Women in Wales Still Face Pay Disparity

Women in Wales are still being paid less than men three decades after legislation to ensure equality was introduced, according to a study on the divide in wages, released on Wednesday, November 21.

The report by the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) revealed that on average, women workers are taking home 13% less than men per hour in full-time employment. The gap widens to 22% for weekly earnings and the report has called for urgent action to address the root causes, claiming women are being undervalued.

It is 30 years since the Equal Pay Act came into force, but the study showed wide gaps continue to exist between the sexes. In Newport and Flintshire, the difference in pay packets can be as much as 26%. The sharpest divides were found between women in part-time work and men in full-time employment. The investigation found that the differences in hourly pay in such cases was up to 36%.

Employment figures show that nearly half (47%) of women are in part-time jobs, which makes it all the more important to tackle the problem, the commission stated.

The investigation by the EOC was conducted with the University of Wales, Swansea. The report's author, Professor David Blackaby, said that nearly half of all the cases looked at could be attributed to discrimination. "It's a fact that has remained stubbornly persistent," he said.

Women were being penalised in the workplace both with unequal job descriptions and for having families, the report concluded.

These statistics show that the struggle for emancipation still comes top of the agenda for women, and that the fight for sovereignty, where people are empowered to determine their own future is one which it is correct that women should be at the forefront of, just as the working class champions the rights of women.

Article Index

Palestinian Leadership Condemns Israeli Escalation

In the light of the violence in the Middle East over the weekend, WDIE is reproducing an official statement of the Palestinian leadership issued on November 24, in which it condemned the Israeli escalation that was taking place and accused the Israeli government of attempting to derail international efforts to restore calm to the area. The leadership warned that this Israeli policy could lead the entire region into an escalatory cycle of violence.

Below is a transcript of the official statement:

The escalation of the Israeli policy of assassination, wilful killing, and terrorism in the past few days is a dangerous indication of the presence of a comprehensive plan, through which the Israeli government aims to further escalate the military situation and cause further deterioration.

We would like to emphasise to all the international and regional forces that this policy expresses the Israeli government's determination to continue exercising violence and assassination, thus implementing its aggressive plan against the entire region and us.

In the past two days, thirteen Palestinian martyrs have fallen, among them women, children, civilians, and activists. This all came exactly after three weeks of complete calm throughout the area. It also came after the launching of American efforts following the speeches made by President Bush and the declaration of the Administration's Secretary of State regarding the principles of political settlements, which include an end to occupation and settlement activities in addition to the declaration of a Palestinian state.

The Israeli government's goal is to derail this political process as well as the international efforts and initiatives in addition to committing all forms of terrorism, murder and racist destruction so that the Mitchell Report, with all its aspects does not find a way to implementation and so that serious negotiations that would lead to a final settlement according to the signed agreements and international resolutions do not commence.

We call upon our People, with all its sectors and groups, to thoroughly examine the goals of this Israeli plan and to turn their anger, condemnation, and pain from these [Israeli] crimes into a solid and comprehensive national ability for resoluteness so that we can abort the criminal plan against our citizens, freedom fighters, holy sights as well as the positive developments that the international position has begun taking towards our People's national rights.

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