Socialist Worker

Leeds bin workers vote to reject council's rubbish 'final offer'

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2175

Striking refuse workers in Leeds last week voted by a massive 92 percent to reject a “final offer” from the council and continue their all-out action.

The workers in the Unison and GMB unions are taking part in their eighth week of indefinite strike action against the council’s plans to slash wages by up to £6,000.

The council’s latest offer reduced the amounts that workers would lose—but it still contained cuts along with attacks on their conditions.

Workers voted to reject the offer at a mass meeting on Wednesday of last week.

“The vote was overwhelming,” a striker in the GMB told Socialist Worker. “The main reasons for voting against were the strings attached to the offer.

“For example, some workers would have their shifts changed to include compulsory weekend working and working bank holidays.

“The council’s offer would also end the ‘task and finish’ that operates at the moment—where people stop work once they’ve finished their job.

“It would increase working hours for some, cut the pay of some drivers by £1,000 straight away and introduce bonuses for productivity rises that we think are unachievable.”

The council tried to divide workers with its offer—promising different things to different groups of workers—but the huge vote to continue action shows that this ploy failed.

“We’re still as strong as we were when this began,” one refuse worker told Socialist Worker. “If not stronger.”

As Gary, a driver, put it, “We came into this dispute together and we’re not leaving people behind. I’m not going to stand and watch my mates get done over.”

Richard Brett, the leader of the Liberal/Tory council, is due to end his term of office at the end of this month.

Andrew Carter, the Conservative leader in Leeds, will replace him.

But workers aren’t hopeful about how this new council leader will approach the dispute.

They are determined to stay out until the planned cuts are withdrawn.

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Article information

Tue 27 Oct 2009, 18:37 GMT
Issue No. 2175
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