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

John Williams, Cardiff East Socialist Party

Cardiff Council workers are in their ninth week on strike, after council bosses still refuse to offer an adequate pay rise that responds to the sharp rise in the cost of living. Many workers in Welsh local authorities get a wage that is barely above the national minimum. It’s appalling that, on average, Cardiff Council workers have lost more than 20% of their pay in real terms in the past 13 years.

As well as that, Unite the Union and its general secretary Sharon Graham have called for an immediate “investigation into potential illegal use of agency workers designed to break Cardiff strike”. The use of agency labour to cover work that would normally be undertaken by workers currently on strike can result in huge fines and punishments for the employer. Cardiff council strikers are livid, and organised a demonstration outside the offices of Acorn Recruitment, calling on it to immediately address their concerns.

A rep, who we now know very well, took a selfie and snatched the paper off me to make sure he was seen holding the paper in the photo! He always pays solidarity price and always asks if the dispute is in the paper. We were talking about the possibilities of the next general election, and when I told him we’re thinking of standing candidates in the general election and the next council elections, he said: “I think we might have to”. The desire for a political alternative is clear to see on the pickets. One worker said to me that a few years ago, he was told that if they went on strike, they wouldn’t be able to attend pre-planned hospital appointments.

They’re thrilled that my Unite union branch pledged £1,000 to the dispute too. We’ve also organised a public Cardiff Socialist Party meeting on the 9 November to build support for the workers here. I went down with a bunch of leaflets to advertise it, and one rep took them from my hand and said: “Come with me, I’ll give them out for you”. Everyone was pleased that we’ve organised the meeting and many of them are planning on coming to it.