Socialist Worker

Bins back out in Barking and Dagenham dispute

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2450

Pickets on Thursday morning at Frizlands Lane depot

Pickets on Thursday morning at Frizlands Lane depot (Pic: Socialist Worker)

Refuse lorry drivers in the GMB union in Barking and Dagenham, east London, began a two-day walkout this morning, Thursday. 

The workers in the GMB union are striking because council bosses are trying to slash their pay by £1,000 a year. 

Workers have previously struck for five days in March and April and are set to strike for a further eight between Friday 1 May and Friday 8 May. 

Several strikers spoke to Socialist Worker on the picket line.

Jacob said, “The strike is very well supported—we’re determined to stop the attack.” 

James added, “I’m here for the lads. If we lose this dispute, then future generations who haven’t even started working here will lose out.” 

The pay cut is part of a plan to cut the “pre start” time when drivers do health and safety checks. 

“You just can’t do a health and safety check in 15 minutes,” Jacob said. 

“But there’s a lot of responsibility when you take the lorry out. You know what happened in Scotland with the bin crash—that’s what we don’t want happening again.”

James explained, “If there’s an accident on the road, the council would take no responsibility—it would all come down on the driver.” 

Workers know that if bosses can push through this attack, they will come for more. 

James said, “They could go for something else, such as taking us down from a 4 to 5 on the pay scales.” 

“There’s definitely more to it,” Tom agreed. “We’re directly employed by Barking and Dagenham council. But we know that the way to ‘cut costs’ is always outsourcing in the end.” 

Management agreed to talks at the Acas conciliation service, but were intransigent. They refused to meet directly with the workers and nothing was achieved. 

This is part of the battle against council cuts that’s becoming a fault line in the fight against austerity. 

Every trade unionist and campaigner needs to build solidarity for this crucial dispute. 

Workers names have been changed. Send messages of support to [email protected]

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Thu 23 Apr 2015, 13:15 BST
Issue No. 2450
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