Some 80 bin workers in Kirklees, West Yorkshire, began a six-day strike on Tuesday.
The Unison union members are fighting over bullying management, holiday entitlement issues and changes that have left the service “cut to the bare bones”.
They voted by 86 percent for strikes on a turnout of over 86 percent.
Around 30 street cleaners, who had not been balloted, refused to cross picket lines on the first strike day at the Huddersfield depot.
Management had to send them home with pay.
Strikers allege that a change in senior management has seen an increase in racism.
Bin worker Adam told Socialist Worker that “one of the managers has been making monkey chants and called people jungle boys”.
Kirklees Unison branch secretary Paul Holmes said, “Racism and bullying from management are commonplace. Some of the incidents being reported don’t just breach the council’s procedures, but break the law.”
And Adam says racism is just part of management’s arsenal of attacks.
“They tried to get us to eat our dinner in the wagons—which are filthy.
“We pointed to the wagon and asked a manager ‘would you eat your dinner in there?’ And he replied ‘I don’t have to.’ It wound people up.”
Strikers are also fighting against skeleton staffing of the service that means managers are refusing holiday requests because there are no workers available to cover the rounds.
Adam said, “We’ve had members put in for holidays three months in advance and they’re not approved.
“Some of us have got over 1,200 hours of holiday which has built up.”
He added that access to holidays is an “absolute nightmare” for those with children.
“People want time with their families,” he said. “They struggle to see them now.”
Adam said they have received “lots of support”. “The solidarity is important, because we’re not the only council suffering cuts,” he said. “I think we will win.”
Strike rally and march, Friday 6 July, assemble 1pm, Vine Street, Huddersfield HD1 6NT. Messages of support to [email protected]