3 Local Authorities in Wales to take strike action over pay

Unite, the UK’s leading union, has announced that its members in three Welsh local authorities initially, will begin taking strike action from 4th September in a dispute over pay.

Unite members have overwhelmingly rejected the local authority employers’ pay offer of just £1,925, a poorer offer than last year, despite the cost-of-living crisis having worsened.

The first industrial action will involve Unite members at both Cardiff and Wrexham Councils who will start continuous strike action from September 4th to September 17th. They will be joined by workers at Gwynedd Council who will strike from September 11th to September 17th. Unite members at Cynon Valley Waste have also voted for strike action, with dates for their action still to be finalised.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Welsh council workers are on the frontline providing vital services to communities across Wales. It is simply unacceptable that workers have been forced onto the breadline due to years of real terms pay cuts.”

“Unite never takes a backward step in supporting its members and is dedicated to enhancing their jobs, pay and conditions. Unite will be providing its local authority members with its complete support.”

Unite has members across every department within Welsh Local Authorities. The strike action will have a major impact on refuse collections and recycling centres, in particular.

Peter Hughes, Unite Wales Regional Secretary said; “The current pay offer to Welsh council workers is a slap in the face and would see pay levels further eroded. Our members provide essential services day in day out and deserve better. Unless an improved pay offer is forthcoming this industrial action will only escalate as we head into the Autumn months”.

A survey of Unite members in local authorities, earlier this summer, highlighted how years of pay freezes and below inflation pay deals has resulted in workers facing desperate financial choices. The survey found:

  • Nearly half (48 per cent) have struggled to afford heating, electricity and water bills 
  • 30 per cent have struggled to afford food and clothing
  • Almost a quarter (23 per cent) are skipping meals to save money
  • 17 per cent have struggled to meet rent and mortgage payments
  • Six per cent have been forced to use food banks

Tensions in the dispute have risen dramatically following a “dismissive and patronising” letter sent by local authority employers refusing to even enter into negotiations and stating its initial offer was “full and final”.

Following the initial September strikes, Unite will be escalating the industrial action throughout the autumn, with coordinated action, longer periods of strikes and more members joining the dispute.