Socialist Worker

Bristol bins strike off as workers accept deal

Issue No. 2155

Refuse workers in the Unite union in Bristol have called off a planned all-out strike over pay, which was due to start on Wednesday of this week.

Workers voted to accept a 2.75 pay offer after talks with Sita, the private company that employs them.

However, it is unclear whether the deal will be funded by Sita or the council, which had offered to meet the costs of a pay rise.

The workers have not had a pay rise since November 2007, despite the fact that Sita made an operating profit of £17.5 million that year. Unite wanted a rise of 4 percent.

Some 45 percent of Suez’s 12 billion Euro turnover comes from the waste business.

Workers had taken several days of successful strike action during their dispute. Picket lines of up to 100 people reflected the militant mood of the workers.

Bosses meanwhile tried to break the strike.

They shipped in labour from Newcastle and Gravesend to fill in for striking workers, paying the hotel, travel and food bills for the strikebreakers.

These workers had not been told that this was an official Unite dispute.

Sita’s delaying tactics of offering arbitration was rejected by the strikers on Monday. One striker said, “I am happy the vote has gone the way it’s gone. Management are trying to divide us but they are failing.”

Both the FBU firefighters’ union and Unison have donated £500.

Jen Russ

Solidarity meeting

Solidarity from other trade unionists was a critical element of the dispute. The CWU union gave a boost to strikers when it called a meeting to organise a support group for them.

More than 20 people representing at least five trade unions came to the meeting.

They were a mixture of rank and file members and local and regional officials.

The group discussed ways to build solidarity action.

Tam McFarlane, FBU executive council member, pledged money to the strike fund.

Dave Wiltshire, CWU Bristol Amal branch secretary, called for a demonstration and rally in support of the strikers.

Pam Jennings, the Unite union rep leading the dispute, called for a public meeting.

Workplace leafleting and bucket collections were also organised.

Jaz Thomas, from the FBU, called for the meeting to support and send a delegation of at least two Sita strikers to the Fight for the Right To Work conference this Saturday.

The meeting supported this call.

Linda Nunns

Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'

Article information

Tue 9 Jun 2009, 18:52 BST
Issue No. 2155
Share this article


Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.