Owen’s Pontypridd Observer column 11/11/2015

Remembrance Sunday

It was an honour to once again lay a wreath in Ynysangharad Memorial Park on Sunday to remember our fallen heroes at Pontypridd’s civic service. Every year, more and more people turn out to pay their respects at Ponty’s annual remembrance service, and it was a pleasure to see so many young people attend this year to honour our brave service men and women from Pontypridd and the surrounding areas. The service commenced at St Catherine’s church, followed by a parade march to the park alongside our veterans and serving men and women.

It was a poignant day which stood as a timely reminder of the incredible sacrifices that our brave soldiers have made. I know that local people from right across our constituency will have taken the moment afforded through Remembrance Sunday to pause, reflect and remember them.

Living Wage week

Last week marked Living Wage week, a UK-wide celebration of the Living Wage and Living Wage Employers. The Living Wage Foundation has published the new Living Wage rates for the UK and for London. For the first time the UK rate has risen above £8, with the London rate nearer to £10.

Those new benchmarks have been carefully calculated to reflect the costs of living and average earnings across the UK. They represent a fair and decent wage, a rate that rewards hard work and allows a decent life to be lived. They also represent a fair and decent challenge to the Conservative government to justify the rate and the reality of the so-called ‘national’ living wage they announced last June. This issue of the gap between the real living wage and the government’s heavily spun higher rate is so important, especially for the young who will not benefit. Labour continues to support the ongoing campaign for a proper living wage, as we celebrate those employers who provide one.

The Trade Union bill

The Tories have continued their attacks on trade unions this week with the third reading of their pernicious Trade Union bill. The government wants to introduce a new threshold for strike action, in a bid to prevent working people from withdrawing their labour. This is not just an affront to civil liberties, it also reeks of hypocrisy from a government elected with 36 per cent support of the 65 per cent of people who voted in the general election. They clearly have a mandate from the electorate and a right to form the government, yet for them to them turn around and suggest trade unions are required to pass an arbitrary 50 per cent ballot threshold is a shameless example of double standards. Alongside the rest of the Labour Party, I will be opposing this harmful bill at every stage possible.

Owen Smith MP Welsh Labour MP for Pontypridd
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