Council workers in Cardiff struck on Wednesday of last week to defend a colleague who was sacked after speaking out over the underfunding of children's services in the city. Some 3,200 members of the Unison union took part in the strike, which closed offices and hit services across Cardiff.
Around 500 of the strikers joined a rally later in the day. They are demanding that the council reinstates union activist Charles Faber, who was a senior social worker in Cardiff for 18 years. He was suspended last October just hours after he appeared on a BBC programme exposing the lack of resources for children's services.
'I had raised it with senior management and with the council, but nothing was done,' Charles Faber told Socialist Worker. 'So I spoke out about the dangerous consequences of underfunding. There is supposed to be a policy to protect whistleblowers. But I was immediately suspended and then sacked in January.'
'The council has come up with a range of allegations against him,' says Jane Moore, vice-chair of the Unison branch. 'But they had nothing to say against him for 18 years. Then all these allegations come out just after the television programme. We are clear he is being treated unfairly.'
Pickets across Cardiff shared that feeling. Senior housing steward Alun Hills said, 'This has brought together other issues too. The council leader is on £60,000 a year and has just given himself a £94 a week rise. There are cutbacks to services and attacks on the union. There is definitely a feeling around that people have had enough. That's why today is so effective. What really gets people is that it is a Labour council doing this. And our union is paying money to Labour.'
The conference of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), the third largest teachers' union in England and Wales, was taking place in Cardiff on the day of the strike.
With the agreement of Unison, it was moved from St David's Hall, where the technicians were on strike, to Cardiff City Hall.
Send messages of support and calls for Charles Faber's reinstatement to Unison Office, Room 104, Atlantic Wharf, Cardiff. Phone 02920 872 850.