Recent action by refuse workers frustrates local residents, while union members stand firm
At the public meeting in Cathays on 9 November, opinions and experiences were shared by striking workers and residents about the ongoing impact of refuse piling up in the streets.
Striking workers from Unite the Union explained the reasons for their action. Refuse worker John Roberts said “members are at financial breaking point” and “know their worth”.
“Colleagues have had to move properties,” he said, “one-third of members are financially worse off than this time last year.” He added that there have been huge changes to colleagues’ conditions. These include lost hours and restructuring, meaning members are “£250 worse off”.
In order to keep certain benefits, some on strike have had to return to work. Roberts called this “a big, big carrot”. He said they were willing to stay but this “turned the table”.
Roberts and his colleague Simon Edwards told the room how they get up at 4am every morning to ensure the pickets are ready for 5am. “We’re more knackered than when we’re working” they joked.
The public view
Residents present were largely supportive of the strike, but there was unanimous frustration over the state of their streets. However, there were not enough members of the public to get a truly representative sample of the feeling of local residents.
Cardiff Trades Council secretary, Dave Bartlett called on the council to “spend money on citizens” and expressed his support for the action.
No Cardiff Council members were present at the meeting. In a council meeting on 26 October, council leader Huw Thomas stated “a number of meetings have taken place with Unite.” He referred to the pay dispute being a national one, rather than local.
The strike concluded on 26 November although a re-ballot is expected. Therefore residents will once again face disruption to their refuse collection, something that could be exacerbated by the Christmas period.