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Cardiff to face further bin strikes after Christmas

Recycling bags are continuing to pile up on the streets of Cardiff amid ongoing strike action over pay (Pics: Ted Peskett)

CARDIFF looks set to face further bin strikes soon after Christmas. Unite confirmed that its members at Cardiff Council have voted in favour of strike action over a number of local issues, including alleged bullying.

The walkout will take place for four weeks from Thursday, December 28, 2023 to Thursday, January 25, 2024.

Cardiff Council said the union’s claims of bullying refer to allegations that were made more than a year ago and that an independent review found no substance to the allegations. The local authority also said it has already strengthened its processes and management oversight in response to Unite’s concerns.

Unite general secretary, Sharon Graham, said: “Cardiff council has completely failed to acknowledge that there is a bullying culture within the refuse and recycling department. The council must act urgently to address this.

“Our members encounter bullying at work every day and they have had enough. The overwhelming vote in favour of strike action is a clear demonstration of how angry they are.

“Unites support for our members at Cardiff Council is unwavering and the workers will continue to receive the union’s total backing.”

Strikes over pay awards affected waste collection in Cardiff for two months and ended on November 26.

The collection of garden and hygiene waste was affected right across the city and the collection of mixed recycling was affected in certain areas.

Some streets in Cardiff became littered with piles of green mixed waste recycling bags during the strike period.

A Cardiff Council spokesperson said: “The Council finds Unite’s decision to strike again disappointing, and we are unsure what the union is hoping to achieve through further industrial action at this stage.  

“The union has decided to strike on a variety of different issues, including:  a better deal for agency workers, and the early implementation of the increase in the Real Living Wage.

“They have done this despite knowing that both of these concerns have been responded to positively by the Council, with a way forward discussed and agreed through our Trade Union Partnership structures.

“Indeed, the Council has a long and proud track-record of working closely with the trade unions – particularly around the Real Living Wage – and we are strongly committed to our partnership arrangements continuing to deliver positively for the trade unions and Cardiff Council employees.

“Unite is also bringing claims of bullying in the department.  These claims refer to allegations brought to the Council over a year ago. At that time the Council agreed to an independent review which found no substance whatsoever to their allegations.

“However, we always take allegations of bullying seriously and we have already strengthened our processes and management oversight in response to Unite’s concerns.

“A senior management process has been put in place to have oversight of working arrangements at Lamby Way, and we will respond decisively should Unite bring forward further evidenced issues.”

Cardiff Council’s offer to Unite is as follows:

  • A commitment to review pay scales in the context of any national review of the issues and as part of the council’s overall workforce strategy
  • A commitment to work through any issue relating to local pay and grading raised by any of its trade unions, through its usual trade union partnership structure and reflecting the usual considerations of affordability
  • A commitment to implement changes to the council’s fair work policy, to reduce from 24 months to 12 months the qualifying time for agency workers to be offered temporary contracts
  • For a mutually agreed period, the introduction of enhanced senior management oversight of evidenced poor behaviours at Lamby Way
  • A commitment to complete, in line with the workforce strategy, the review of the council’s disciplinary policy and procedure and the grievance policy and procedure, both currently in train

The council spokesperson added: “It’s the Council’s view that the implementation of these matters would make a substantial impact in addressing any genuine concerns held by Unite members within the Council.

“In addition, early implementation of the Real Living Wage from January, which has been agreed, will benefit more than 1,000 council staff.

“This council believes that all of Unite’s issues can and should be properly considered through established procedures and the Trade Union Partnership, without the need for any Council employee to end up in financial detriment as a result of unnecessary strike action.

“Nevertheless we will continue to be available to meet Unite, as we have been throughout the past few months, to try and end the dispute and avoid disruption to residents.”

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