Grwp Gwalia strike to defend pay and conditions

Neath Port Talbot council outsource pay cuts

Care workers who were transferred from Neath/ Port Talbot Council to Grwp Gwalia, two years ago, have taken their first 24 hours of strike action as part of the campaign to retain their terms and conditions.

Unison members were on picket lines this morning and attended a large, lunchtime rally next to Grwp Gwalia's headquarters in Swansea.

Alan Thomson, Grwp Gwalia Unison rep in the Swansea office told the meeting that Gwalia were targeting the Care and Support workers first but would then go for other workers later. Some members could lose up to £600 a month, with others being forced to accept different shift patterns and performing different roles.

The overwhelming vote for strike action flies in the face of managements' public claims that 95% of the staff are happy with their new contracts. Many Care Workers reluctantly signed the new contracts under duress after the intimidating approach by management.

This dispute mirrors the Doncaster Care workers struggle and highlights the dangers of outsourcing.

Unison members who transferred to Grwp Gwalia had their terms and conditions 'protected' by a TUPE transfer agreement for two years and it was exactly two years later, to the day, when Grwp Gwali presented the workers with new contracts of employment with less pay and worse terms and conditions.

Labour council's across the country, like Neath/Port Talbot, try and portray outsourcing as a viable alternative in managing the cuts but the example of Grwp Gwalia is yet another confirmation of workers being forced to pay the price because the Welsh Labour Government and Labour Councils refuse to fight the ConDem cuts.

Despite some local difficulties today's strike was a success with Unison members learning some important lessons in preparation for the next round of action.

Alec Thraves

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