The state of Cardiff’s streets as waste collection strikes continue
Ted Peskett – Local Democracy Reporter
Recycling bags are continuing to pile up on the streets of Cardiff due to council waste collection strikes.
The strikes, which have also affected the collection of garden and hygiene waste, have been going on since September 3.
Cardiff Council said it has held a number of meetings with Unite through various forums to try to seek a way forward in the dispute, which is over pay.
However, an agreement is still yet to be made and the strikes are expected to continue until November 26.
Cardiff Council said the strike action mandate that Unite has in the city relates specifically to a nationally negotiated pay award.
However, Unite argues the pay dispute is one that can be solved locally, pointing to other councils across the country which were able to negotiate a pay rise with workers.
Wrexham Council made a pay rise offer which was accepted by Unite and waste management staff there returned to work this week.
Cardiff Council leader Huw Thomas was asked at a meeting on Thursday, October 26, to justify his refusal to negotiate or talk to trade unionists about the pay dispute.
Conservative council member, Councillor Joel Williams said: “Cllr Thomas, will you agree and will you commit to sitting down and meeting with Unite the Union to hear out their legitimate concerns and commit to bringing this bin strike to an end?”
Cllr Thomas said: “I have been very clear with Unite the Union in terms of where we stand on a nationally negotiated pay deal, but also my desire to work with them and all recognised trade unions in this council to find a way through this dispute.
“I have met with them, I spoke to them extensively tonight as well. Those discussions are ongoing.”
Unite recently accused Cardiff Council of potentially using agency workers to break the strike – a claim the council vehemently denies.
In a statement, the union said it “has found evidence that employment agencies may be supplying labour and advertising positions, to cover work that would normally be undertaken by workers currently on strike”.
A Cardiff Council spokesperson said in response to the claim: “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 can 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.
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