Council urged to open talks as strike action escalates
Plaid Cymru councillors have called for Wrexham Council to open talks with striking workers after a further five weeks of industrial action was confirmed by the Unite trade union on Friday.
Unite members at both Wrexham and Cardiff Councils are currently on strike in a dispute over pay.
Members of the union are taking action after overwhelmingly rejecting the local authority employers’ pay offer of just £1,925, described by the union as “a poorer offer than last year and a real terms pay cut”.
Unite says that members within Welsh Local Authorities work for a wage that is barely above the national minimum wage.
Peter Hughes, Unite Wales Regional Secretary said; “Welsh Local Authority workers have seen their pay decimated in recent years. Despite this, council leaders think it’s acceptable to propose what amounts to a real terms pay cut, when workers increasingly can’t make ends meet.”
“There has been silence from local authority employers during this strike action. Our members are not backing down and we will now escalate the industrial action until local authorities start negotiating with us.”
Councillor Marc Jones, who leads the Plaid Cymru group on the council, said the current strike action had had a very visible impact in terms of bin collection and residents were understandably frustrated with the lack of information about when bins would be collected.
He said: “There are two issues behind the strike action – one is UK-wide pay negotiations that is not within the council’s remit. But there are also local issues that are definitely something the council can sit down and start negotiating with the workers.
“They include pay grades. Refuse collectors and other council staff are doing essential work and deserve to be paid fairly. I think most fair-minded people would see a problem with the same job being paid £1500 less in Wrexham than in neighbouring Flintshire.
“Rather than let this dispute fester, it would be better to get round the table and start meaningful negotiations so it can be resolved before we see a further escalation.
“As a group of nine Plaid Cymru councillors, we understand people’s frustrations about missed bin collections and waste piling up on the streets. We’re hearing from people every day who want to know what’s going on and we’re sharing as much information as we have.
“We believe the best solution is better communication with residents and with the workers themselves to resolve this as quickly as possible. This has happened with other councils who are also involved in the UK-wide negotiations so there is no reason why meaningful negotiations can’t start and the strikes are then suspended.”
Councillor Jones said he had written to Wrexham Council’s chief executive Ian Bancroft calling for the council leadership to address the matter.
Yesterday (29 September) Unite announced a new round of strikes would start from 16 October and last until 24 November.
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