Socialist Worker

Barking and Dagenham refuse strikers won't be beaten by bosses' dirty tricks

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2453

The refuse workers on strike

The refuse workers on strike (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Refuse lorry drivers in Barking and Dagenham, east London, began the second day of a 13 day walkout today, Thursday.

The GMB union members’ action is going strong and workers’ confidence is growing.

Workers explained that police were inside the depot today monitoring numbers on the official picket line.

They said bosses have tried to ship in five agencies. But the GMB has managed to stop them taking the work.

The workers are fighting bosses’ plans to slash their pay by £1,000 a year. But they have also raised serious concerns about health and safety.

Bosses want to cut the “pre start” time, when drivers perform health and safety checks on their vehicles, from 30 to 15 minutes.

Having lost the argument on pay, bosses are now trying to discredit workers’ health and safety arguments.

The Barking and Dagenham Post newspaper photographed a “pre start” at the Frizlands Lane depot on Thursday that supposedly took only nine minutes.

Jacob told Socialist Worker, “When we started this dispute management claimed you could do a ‘pre start’ in 15 minutes, but now they’re claiming nine minutes.

“What’s changed in that time?”

Bart agreed, “Management’s story just keeps changing all the time, because they know it doesn’t stand up.

“But what about the managers? They come and go when they want to and take two hour lunches.”

He added, “The local press always side with the bosses, just like the tabloids”.


Jacob explained, “They don’t know the job at all. When we have to do ‘pre starts’ it’s often dark in the morning, the depot is full and we’re all queuing up for fuel.

“Nine minutes is impossible – but they’re still refusing the let the independent regulator in to check the time.

“This is now about taking £2,000 instead of £1,000 off us.”

Bosses shipped lorries to the Pondfield depot and tried to use Unison and Unite members as scab labour.

Despite their unions signing up to a deal, the Unite and Unison members refused to cross the GMB picket lines.

Peter said, “That was all part of management’s dirty tricks – but they haven’t tried it since because it was solid.

“Our strike is going strong and we’re getting a lot of support”.

Workers are set to walk out again from 30 May to 7 June.

Every trade unionist needs to build solidarity for this crucial dispute – and other groups of council workers should come out to fight against the cuts.

Workers names have been changed
Join the picket lines from 6am outside Frizlands Lane Depot, Rainham Road North, Dagenham, RM10 7HX. Send messages of solidarity [email protected] 

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