Page last updated at 15:11 GMT, Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Business leaders criticise strike


Some AMs have expressed concern at that decision not to hold plenary

Business leaders have criticised a decision to postpone a meeting of the full Welsh assembly due to strike action by civil servants.

CBI Wales Director David Rosser said it sent "the wrong message" and complained of a lack of leadership.

Four assembly members joined striking civil and public servants at a rally.

An assembly commission spokesman said the plenary had not been cancelled, but rather the assembly government had withdrawn its business.

The plenary meeting originally scheduled for Tuesday has been postponed until 1030 GMT on Wednesday.

It was because some assembly government ministers did not wish to cross picket lines on a second day of industrial action by civil and public servants.

Ministers stayed away from both the national assembly in Cardiff Bay and the assembly government buildings at Cathays Park.

At a time when the government is urging all public sector bodies to make savings in order to protect services this sends out completely the wrong message
CBI Wales Director David Rosser

Workers in Wales joined UK-wide industrial action over changes to redundancy terms.

The UK government is trying to impose new rules, which would mean a maximum redundancy payment of two years' salary for those earning over £30,000 a year.

It is estimated by the PCS that around 15,000 people took part in the first day of strike action on Monday.

CBI Wales Director David Rosser said it was disappointing the "flexibility and pragmatism" he said had been shown by members of private sector unions in recent years "is not shared by the PCS".

Mr Rosser added: "It is also concerning that the Welsh assembly has cancelled its business today in response to the strike.

"It would have been nice to see more leadership shown by our national politicians.

"At a time when the government is urging all public sector bodies to make savings in order to protect services this sends out completely the wrong message."

Labour's Jeff Cuthbert and Plaid Cymru's Helen Mary Jones, Leanne Wood and Bethan Jenkins joined about 50 Public and Commercial Services (PCS) members at a rally outside the Senedd on the second day of strike action.

The chair of the PCS union in the assembly Leanne Wood AM said the UK government was preparing for a cull in the public sector by renegotiating severance pay.

Jeff Cuthbert AM, who chairs Labour's Unite Union group in the assembly, said the majority of the Labour group decided not to cross the picket line that affects "our employees".

Lib Dem and Conservative members did cross the picket line.

'Dangerous precedent'

Conservative leader Nick Bourne said the postponement of the assembly business created an "unfortunate impression" setting a "dangerous precedent".

Lib Dem Jenny Randerson AM said she has "great sympathy" with the PCS members but asked for greater leadership from the first minister and presiding officer.

She said: "I'm very concerned in view of the fact that there is a likelihood of strikes in future.

"Democracy in Wales is on the back foot. If there are strikes that go on for a month it would impact on the legislative programme."

Meetings of the children and young people's, petitions and standards and conduct committees also scheduled for Tuesday were cancelled by the committees.

It is understood this was because the minimum necessary numbers of members would not have been present for business to proceed.

The UK government insists the new rules under dispute are "fair" to both staff and taxpayers.

The 48-hour stoppage is also affecting job centres, courts and airports.

No committee meetings of the Scottish Parliament are taking place today, following committee convenors taking soundings from members.

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