Socialist Worker

Wirral bin workers refuse to carry on without bosses’ guarantees

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2700

Wirral bin collections are subcontracted to Biffa

Wirral bin collections are subcontracted to Biffa (Pic: Bilbobagweed/Wikimedia commons)


Bin workers on the Wirral on Merseyside stopped work over coronavirus health and safety last week.

The Unite union members, who work for the outsourcer Biffa, refused to work on Tuesday of last week over bosses’ “failure to take the workforce’s concerns seriously”.

Workers said bosses were still asking three workers to be in a lorry cab despite social distancing. Steven Gerrard, a Unite regional officer, said, “For over a fortnight Unite has been trying to ensure that Biffa introduced measures to protect our members. They have failed to do so.

“We have been calling for an urgent meeting to find a safe workable solution to our members’ health concerns, but these calls have been ignored.

“Our members have informed us that enough is enough and they will not continue to have their health and the health of their families placed at needless risk.”

Pressure from bin workers forces new safety regime
Pressure from bin workers forces new safety regime
  Read More

He added, “Residents of the Wirral will be alarmed that their refuse workers who are playing a key worker role are being treated with such disregard.

“Other councils and contractors have introduced measures to ensure social distancing, it is not rocket science.

“Biffa must take immediate measures to ensure the safety of its workforce.”

The walkout forced negotiations between the union and bosses—the outcome of which remains unclear.

Wirral Council said that “Biffa have resumed collections of green and grey bins” on Wednesday of last week.

It said this followed “agreement that the current health and safety measures in place are in line with national guidance for waste collection operatives”.

Other groups of bin workers have won clear victories over health and safety demands. This includes workers at Amey contracts across Britain and at the Serco contract in Bexley. But bosses at Medway Norse in Kent have reneged on an earlier deal.

Fighting back can beat back the bosses who put workers’ lives at risk.


Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'


Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.