Support our Nation today - please donate here

Labour council denies claims over use of agency staff during strike action

31 Oct 2023 4 minute read
Green bags piling up in Cardiff. Photo Ted Peskett

Ted Peskett, local democracy reporter

A Labour council has denied claims made by a union that it is potentially using agency staff to break an ongoing waste collection strike.

The strike, which is over nationally-negotiated pay awards, started on September 4 and has seen streets across Cardiff piling up with mixed recycling bags.

Strike action and the effect on waste collection is expected to continue until November 26.

Unite recently claimed in a statement that it had found evidence that employment agencies may be supplying labour and advertising positions to cover work that would normally be undertaken by Cardiff Council workers who are currently on strike.

Cardiff Council said there is “absolutely no truth in this allegation” and that Unite has brought no evidence to the council “because there is none”.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “[Council leader] Huw Thomas and senior Cardiff Council leadership must immediately investigate if employment agencies are illegally advertising and supplying labour, with the intention of breaking the current strike within the local authority.

“It is unthinkable that a Labour-run council would sanction this. Not only would it be illegal, but it is also morally indefensible. All efforts should be focussed on resolving this dispute, not looking at ways to undermine lawful industrial action.

“Unite has written to the employment agencies and Cardiff Council demanding an urgent response to this potentially illegal development.”

The collection of garden waste and hygiene waste across Cardiff is being affected by the strikes. Mixed recycling collections have also been affected, but only in some areas of the city.

Workers rights

On Unite’s allegation, a Cardiff spokesperson said: “There is absolutely no truth in this allegation. The council is well aware of the law in this regard and has followed it scrupulously.

“Unite has brought no evidence of this allegation to the council, because there is none. Cardiff Council respects workers’ rights to strike and would not undertake any ‘strike breaking’ action which would or could break the law.

“The strike action mandate that Unite has in Cardiff relates specifically and only to a nationally-negotiated pay award. Yet they continue to claim that Cardiff Council can negotiate with them on this.

“Any discussions on this pay award are taking place with all the trade unions covered by the pay award and the National Employers for local government services.

“That aside, the council has held a number of meetings with Unite through various forums, both locally and through the WLGA to try to seek a way forward with the union.

“There has also been communication with Unite at a local and regional level throughout the period of industrial action.

“In addition, the council has met with Unite and its other recognised trade unions through its usual Trade Union Partnership arrangements to discuss any matters that Unite wish to raise that are not nationally negotiated.

“On the issues which were raised in those meetings, we have made some suggestions which we hope could secure a way forward.

“Cardiff Council is committed to continuing discussions in social partnership with Unite on this dispute, and with the other recognised trade unions.”

The council said that during the strike, people will be allowed to take mixed recycling bags and garden waste to the city’s recycling centres if an appointment is made.

Those who are unable to temporarily store their hygiene waste are being advised to put hygiene caddies out for collection on the same day that their black bin bags are collected.

Food waste and black bin bag collections will remain unaffected.

The National Joint Council and Unite have been contacted for an update on negotiations over pay.

Support our Nation today

For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Our Supporters

All information provided to Nation.Cymru will be handled sensitively and within the boundaries of the Data Protection Act 2018.