THE worrying trend of UK Coalition Government attacks on the trade union movement continues.

Last month Tory chairman Grant Shapps clumsily attacked those he described as ‘union extremists’, while August began with Justice Secretary Chris Grayling spreading political scare stories about trade unions ‘dominating Downing Street’ in future, and criticising Labour for its trade union donations.

Personally I’m proud to belong to a movement which links millions of ordinary working people through our Trade Unions.

But it’s not just those of us on the left who are left frustrated by these attacks: even Conservative MP Guy Opperman spoke of his ‘despair’ at attacks on trade unionism.

The truth is that trade unions are there for all of us – whatever our background, and wherever we stand on the political spectrum. Trade unions have shaped the modern history of South Wales, particularly here in Gwent, and it’s important that we secure and build upon this heritage for future generations.

I have recently met and had productive discussions with representatives of several unions who are excellent advocates for the movement: for example, Community, who play such an important role at Llanwern and Orb; GMB, who have been a leading voice in the battle against blacklisting in the workplace; and the BFAWU, who have worked tirelessly for the hardworking staff at Avana Bakeries in Rogerstone over a very difficult few months for staff and their families.

In the face of austerity and cutbacks, it’s never been so important for the concerns of ordinary people to be heard, and trade unions can provide a democratic voice for the public against the powerful.

To find out whether there’s a trade union in your workplace, you can use the TUC’s Union Finder tool at or call the Wales TUC on 02920 347010.

At the start of August, I was delighted to go along to the East Community Action Day on Ringland playing fields. It’s a fantastic event that’s been going for the last couple of years. There were games and sporting events for hundreds of local residents, and many organisations like Gwent Police and Communities First had stalls. The following day was the equally great Alway Association’s fun day at the community centre as well.

Everyone who organised and took part in these events deserves a big thank you. These grassroots events are part of what helps build stronger communities and neighbourhoods.