Cardiff bin strike. Photo: John Williams
Cardiff bin strike. Photo: John Williams

‘When I first started working here it was buzzing – now it’s horrific’

John Williams, Cardiff East Socialist Party

Cardiff Council workers entered their second week of strike action, against the recent local authority pay offer for council workers.

The strikers remain determined to fight, and are talking to people who aren’t on strike or in a union.

Some workers at the council had been on agency contracts for 15 years. The council promised to address this after a vote for strike action last year, but agency workers still have to wait four years before being taken onto permanent contracts. The council uses six agencies, some of which get over £1,000 a year per worker.

There is also anger regarding bullying in the Cardiff waste department. We were told that a bin worker got stabbed several times on duty, and the manager told him to come into work on Monday otherwise he’d be put on a stage one sickness procedure. We also learned about a rep who has worked there for 33 years, who removed a damaged catch and was sacked by a supervisor who said: “I haven’t got time for unions”.

Managers have tried to undermine the strike, ringing up strikers’ partners, and trying to convince some workers they couldn’t go on strike as they haven’t been working at the council long enough. We were told that the council leader had tried to say they couldn’t use the toilet on site, but soon backed down when an organiser said they would tell the media.

“When I first started working here, it was buzzing, now it’s horrific”, one rep told us.

Another said: “They’re still using agency staff, promising them a long-term contract. They’re using them. They don’t know what’s round the corner”.

Around 100 people, including Socialist Party members and Cardiff Trades Council activists, marched to the Labour-led Welsh parliament to demand Welsh councils act now.

Three more weeks of action start on 25 September. Socialist Party members and Cardiff Trades Council delegates are discussing with workers about supporting them in any way we can, including demanding that Labour authorities stop implementing austerity, privatisation, and way-below-inflation pay offers.

  • Corrections have been made from the article originally published in print