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Wednesday, 21 August 2013 00:00

Sacrifices of brave Welsh strikers will never be forgotten

While the likes of ex-MPs Kim Howells and Peter Mandelson may turn their backs on the trade unions who gave them their place in the sun, let's remember and celebrate the huge contribution made by the brave men of Merthyr, Newport and Llanelli, who gave their lives in the Welsh struggle for a better world for us all.

In Merthyr children as young as seven worked in the steel mills and mines. If they survived childhood, life expectancy was 32 years.

In 1911 unrest spread across south Wales as industrial accidents took thousands of lives and railwaymen suffered from long hours and wage cuts.

Meanwhile a strike took place in Llanelli and all 500 railwaymen came out to block railway lines and occupy trains.

The bosses responded by bringing in the Worcester regiment. The strikers were met first with fixed bayonets and then with gunfire. Two innocent bystanders were killed.

Out of that grim day came a movement from which the Labour Party was formed, which after its landslide victory in 1945, changed the face of Britain for the better. The NHS, full employment and social justice were its goals.

On Saturday we commemorated the Llanelli strike and reminded ourselves that the struggle for decent wages and a better life for all still goes on.

The message was simple. Don't look to politicians to stop the attacks on our hard-won rights, our health and public services.

We must aim to take control of our own lives as we have down the centuries.

Ray Davies

Caerphilly

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