The Member of the Senedd for the Rhondda has said all frontline workers deserve “decent financial recognition” for their hard work during the coronavirus pandemic.
During her speech to Plaid Cymru 2021 Spring Conference, Leanne said workers deserved more than “clapping on our doorsteps” after risking their lives and working so hard to keep services running.
She also outlined some themes from a post-coronavirus economic recovery plan for the Rhondda which includes a Universal Basic Income pilot for the area as well as a “comprehensive job creation programme, which includes a full and affordable childcare system.”
Since the outbreak of coronavirus, Leanne herself has been a big part of the community response in the Rhondda, setting up a network of volunteers to take of neighbours who are shielding or self-isolating and adapting her food share scheme so that it delivers directly to people.
In her speech she said: “The high Covid rates in our communities resulted in it also getting into our hospital and sadly many lives were lost because of this.
“The hospital was almost overwhelmed, but the fantastic staff kept things going and although many services have been suspended, the situation does now appear to have turned the corner and I am hopeful that those services will resume soon
“But let’s not be under any illusion. Those staff are exhausted. They have been operating on an empty tank for a long time now.
“Those staff who were all clapping on our doorsteps last summer deserve much more than a clap. They deserve decent financial recognition for what they have been through and their various professions deserve to be invested in too.
“After more than a decade of austerity, many aspects of our health and service infrastructure was on its knees. Covid is a hit many of our public services couldn’t afford to take
“If there are lessons to be learned from all of this, surely one has to be the need to invest in our public services and that means the people who work in our public services and keep them going when everything else shuts down.
“It’s not just the right and compassionate thing to do after everything these people have done for us all, but it is also the economic thing to do, the sensible thing to do. These people are going to walk away from their jobs if they keep being subjected to the pressure they have faced over the last year. They’ll have to, to protect themselves.
“All of those public facing workers - and I include shop workers, transport workers, security people and all those others who may not be employed by the public sector but who have had to work in jobs where you come face to face with people unavoidably are all people we will need if things go wrong again in the future. This pandemic has shown their value to society.
“We all need them. We can’t do without them.”
On her economic vision for the Rhondda, Ms Wood said: “We will demand our future takes a different direction. And this is how Plaid Cymru will change it if people in Wales give us the chance to govern in May
“I want to see - and am campaigning for - a universal basic income pilot here in Rhondda Cynon Taf. A pilot will help us work out the best way to implement a full basic income for all.
“The need for this has been shown with people unable to afford time off work to isolate and with all those businesses that have gone to the wall. With increasing automation; without this, how will people in the future live?
“This needs to be coupled with a comprehensive job creation programme, which includes a full and affordable childcare system, making sure the jobs we need doing are done locally.
“I want to see more cooperatives - this model would mean that the company is less likely to leave the area when it grows and becomes successful, taking the jobs with it. And the workers will be owners of the means of their production.”
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