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14 May 2014
Neath/Port Talbot: Outsourced care workers fight to stop pay cuts
Care workers who were transferred from Neath/Port Talbot council to working for Grwp Gwalia two years ago, have taken their first 24 hours of strike action as part of a campaign to retain their terms and conditions.
Unison members were on picket lines this morning, 14th May, 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 was targeting the care and support workers first but would then go for other workers later. Some workers 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 management's 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 Gwalia presented the workers with new contracts of employment with less pay and worse terms and conditions.
Labour councils across the country, like Neath/Port Talbot, try to 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 Con-Dem 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, Swansea Trades Council and Swansea Socialist Party
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