Socialist Worker

Kirklees bin workers vote for all-out strikes

by Sarah Bates
Issue No. 2612

On the picket line in Kirklees

On the picket line in Kirklees (Pic: Unison Y&H region)


Striking bin workers in Kirklees, west Yorkshire have voted for all-out strikes in their fight for fairer working conditions.

They are set to walk out from 31 July, following a decision taken at a strike meeting on Friday.

Unison union members at bin depots in Huddersfield and Dewsbury are in their fourth day of strikes in a long-running dispute over allegation of racism and harassment.

The action has devastated bin collections, with no rounds going out from Huddersfield depot. The solid strike means that a week’s worth of bins are rotting in the hot weather.

At the Dewsbury depot GMB and Unite union members are crossing the picket line and doing the rounds.

Adam is a bin worker at the Huddersfield depot and told Socialist Worker that bosses were “shocked” at the strength of the strike.

“Everything has stopped—we’ve got the upper hand now.”

Workers are fighting for proper investigations into allegations a senior manager has been racially abusive. Strikers also want more workers to fill two new rounds.

This will alleviate the pressure of cuts that forces workers to regularly work an extra day in overtime. And bosses are denying holidays to workers on the basis that there isn’t enough staff to cover shifts.

Nick Ruff, Kirklees Unison chair spoke to Socialist Worker in a personal capacity and said “the strike has been superb.”

In an effort to halt the action, bosses offered 30 new jobs—an increase of 25 percent.

“By management’s own reckoning, that’s not enough workers to cover the rounds”, said Nick.

But workers unanimously rejected the bosses’ offer, because the roles would only be temporary.

And the bin workers want two new rounds, making a more manageable workload. Adam said these new rounds are the “most important” battle to win, and said the experience of striking means workers are ready to win more.

“The picket lines have been brilliant, they’ve been happy, and everyone’sbeen laughing and joking.”

Adam says their picket lines have frustrated the bosses. “They even called the police on us. They did a dog patrol and everything.”

At the Huddersfield depot, Unite members who are road sweepers refused to cross picket lines, and management sent them home.

Adam said their solidarity “was a big boost” to strikers, and left them “chuffed to bits”.

And he said the action have excited workers so much they want to keep striking until they win. “I’d rather keep out until it was sorted out”.


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