Merthyr Council cuts access to union reps for hundreds of workers

Merthyr Tydfil Civic Centre

Hundreds of council and school workers in a Welsh local authority are due to have access to a union representative slashed. 

Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council is cutting the amount of time staff can spend with union reps under plans due to come into force tomorrow (Friday).

The move will affect 660 workers represented by public services union UNISON Cymru/Wales. 

Over the last six months alone, UNISON reps in Merthyr Council have dealt with queries on everything from bullying to sexual harassment. 

The local authority is cutting access to union reps for staff from five down to two days a week.

A UNISON rep said the upcoming cuts would make it more difficult for HR officers to arrange disciplinary investigations and hearings.

He warned the cuts would also mean reps would have to be retrained and added: “We often deal with a lot of matters before they get escalated to the formal stage by meeting with managers on an informal basis.” 

A Merthyr Council worker said: “I don’t believe reducing the presence and availability of UNISON in Merthyr civic centre would benefit the workers. 

“Where our employers have not supported our wellbeing and rights, it is essential that easy access to those who do is maintained.” 

Earlier this year the Welsh government enshrined union relations in law with a social partnership act intended to place trade unions at the heart of decision making over public services.

UNISON Cymru/Wales regional organiser Carmen Bezzina said: “Union reps provide vital support for workers across Wales. 

“It is appalling this support is now being taken away from staff at Merthyr Council. 

“UNISON is fully opposed to this and is calling for the upcoming cut to be suspended. 

“The decision by the local authority to withdraw this support is not in the spirit of social partnership, a way of working we’ve had in Wales for some time which will only be strengthened when the social partnership act comes into force.”