Socialist Worker

Battling bin workers of Bexley refuse to give in 

Issue No. 2766

Bexley bin workers stand firm on the picket line

Bexley bin workers stand firm on the picket line (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Bin workers in Bexley, south London, were set to launch another round of strikes next Monday, 9 August.

Around 140 Unite union members, who are employed by subcontractor Serco, walked out over pay, victimisation and outsourcing on 12 July. 

They have remained on strike since—and now plan to keep up the action until Sunday 22 August. 

Bexley council has said it will not renew Serco’s contract when it expires in October, with workers transferred to the new ­subcontractor Countrystyle Recycling on the London Living Wage of £10.85 an hour.

But the union wants Serco stripped of the contract sooner—and £13 an hour for workers. 

Unite regional officer Ruth Hydon, said, “Residents in Bexley need to brace ­themselves for further bin strikes throughout August.

“While this will cause ­further disruption, this is entirely a result of Serco ­failing to resolve ­widespread pay issues and the ­mistreatment of its workers.

“Bexley council says it is desperate for the dispute to be resolved, but if it is serious then it needs to stop hand wringing and force its ­contractor into line. 

“Bexley outsourced this contract to Serco and it can’t now pretend that this dispute isn’t of its own making. 

“Until action is taken on the grossly unfair pay disparities and action is taken to stop Serco managers victimising workers through its drug testing policies, strikes will continue.”

Suspended 

Meanwhile, the Unite union suspended two walkouts by traffic wardens in Ealing, west London, set for Monday.

Some 45 traffic ­wardens—who work for subcontractor Serco—have been striking over union rights and an absence policy since early May. 

Unite says bosses were “offering severance ­agreements” to reps and members “in order to ­undermine collective consultation and also over the company’s refusal to ­negotiate on their absence policy.

They were set to begin the latest two week period of strikes on Monday, but the first two days were called suspended. 

This follows talks at ­government conciliation ­service Acas. 

Unite says the ­suspension was to “secure a written agreement with Serco on ­bullying and harassment”. 

And to secure a “formal agreement that the company’s absence policy” is only used as an absolute last resort to dismiss a worker”. 

But the union warned that, if an agreement wasn’t reached, workers would walk out on Wednesday until Sunday 15 August. 

Meanwhile, council workers are being urged to reject a “woeful” pay offer of 1.75 percent.

The offer—made by bosses in the Local Government Association—is below inflation, making it effectively a real terms pay cut.

It is also well short of the 10 percent increase demanded by unions Unison, Unite and the GMB.


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