Socialist Worker

All-out Leeds bin strike in the balance

by Simon Basketter
Issue No. 2172

The Leeds bin workers’ strike has been solid for a month (Pic: Darren Hill)

The Leeds bin workers’ strike has been solid for a month (Pic: Darren Hill)

Talks are taking place between unions and Leeds council to resolve the all-out bin strike in the city, which is now in its fourth week.

Hundreds of refuse and street-cleaning workers in the Unison and GMB unions have been on all-out strike since 7 September over attempts to slash pay.

The council wants to cut refuse workers’ annual salaries by up to £6,000 from February 2011, following the introduction of a single status pay deal.

The talks are something of a climbdown from the council, which has brought in private contractors in a bid to break the strike.

According to one striker, “For four weeks, they’ve tried to bully us back to work. We’ve faced the prospect of massive pay cuts, the prospect of not being able to pay our mortgage, rent, food and other bills.

“They’ve used hundreds of thousands of pounds on scabs and private companies to try to break the strike. They engineered the dispute to break the union to allow privatisation of our service. But now they have had to talk.”

It is noticeable that council leader Richard Brett has said, “We need to discuss the issue of efficiency improvements if we are able to resolve this dispute.”

That’s why another picket said, “We’re worth as much today as we were before the strike started, as much as we were two years ago, we won’t go back until we win.”

It is vital that any deal removes the vicious pay cuts, and the attempts to “rationalise” or privatise the service aren’t part of the deal. Meanwhile, the strike continues. Unions have announced a benefit concert for workers – Refuse to be Beat with Keith Allen and very special guests at the O2 Academy, Leeds, Sunday 18 October. Phone: 08444 772 000.

Send messages of support to and

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

Article information

Tue 6 Oct 2009, 18:30 BST
Issue No. 2172
Share this article


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