Socialist Worker

Bin workers strike for pay and respect

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2715

Strikers discussing the action in March

Workers discussing their action in March (Pic: Willie Howard)


Bin workers in south London are taking the fight against poverty pay to the outsourcing giant Serco.

The Unite union members in Bexley were set to hold five days of strikes this week and next. 

They planned walkouts on Thursday and Friday this week and on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday of next week.

Workers are demanding pay of £13 an hour, a wage similar to bin workers in the neighbouring borough of Greenwich. 

At present their pay is  around £4 an hour less—and below the London Living Wage. 

The union says workers are also angry over a “bullying culture”.

The walkouts are part of a long-running dispute. 

The workers struck for a day and a half in March, but suspended their action over pay as the pandemic was taking off. 

Impressive

Nevertheless, union ­officials said the action had been “rock solid” and saw impressive picketing that stopped bosses’ efforts to undermine it. 

This forced Serco to agree to guarantees over sick pay and health and safety during the coronavirus lockdown.

But bosses backed out from it as soon as they could. 

Ruth Hydon, a Unite regional official, said, “Serco agreed to pay all our members sick pay for Covid-19 related absences. The ­outsourcer then reneged on this and did not pay about 30 of our members properly in their April pay packets. The latest industrial action is because Serco have failed to offer our members a decent wage. 

“Their current paltry offer is £10.15 an hour—rejected by our members—is even below the London Living Wage, currently £10.75.

“It has also been rejected because Serco has failed to deal with an insidious ­bullying culture at the Crayford depot.”

The Tories have lauded bin workers—along with many others in local government—as “key workers” who kept going into work during the pandemic.

Having clapped them, they’re now slapping them in the face with further attacks on pay and terms and conditions.

Trade unionists need to build solidarity for the Bexley bin workers in their ­workplaces and union branches. 

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