Cardiff council workers rally. Photo: Socialist Party Wales
Cardiff council workers rally. Photo: Socialist Party Wales

Dave Reid, Cardiff Socialist Party

Unite members working for Cardiff and Wrexham councils are in the fourth week of their strike for a pay rise that does not cut their living standards further.

They struck for two weeks in September, followed by three weeks in October. Unite has announced the addition of another six weeks, extending the strike to 24 November in Wrexham and 26 November in Cardiff.

Picket lines have been strongly supported, especially in waste and recycling, where other Unite members have stood in front of lorries persuading non-Unite drivers not to leave, delaying collections by hours.

In a pathetic attempt to make picketing more difficult, the council spent thousands of pounds putting up railings and flower pots on the traffic island outside the Lamby Way site. But this has only amused the pickets: “Nice of them to provide flowers for our picket line”. But why does this Labour council want to spend thousands against picketing instead of resolving the dispute?

Cardiff Labour council has, at the time of writing, still refused to even negotiate on the insufficient pay rise offered by Welsh councils. Unite members have overwhelmingly rejected the pay offer of local authority employers which is just £1,925, worse than last year and a real-terms pay cut. Many Unite members within Welsh local authorities work for a wage that is barely above the national minimum wage. Local authority workers in Wales have seen real-terms pay cuts of around 20% over the past decade. And for council workers in Cardiff the offer is worth even less, because of the high living costs.

Rubbish has remained uncollected in parts of the city, but public support is high for workers taking a stand against the cost-of-living crisis. Cardiff Trades Council has organised solidarity, with delegations of other union members visiting the picket line, and the Unison council branch supporting the strike. Already thousands have been paid into the union hardship fund.

Resolve is high, with a second march through the city planned, and a fifth week of strike action to go ahead unless the council comes up with a better offer.