Socialist Worker

Derbyshire Dales and Brighton: bin workers refuse to be treated like rubbish

by Jeannie Robinson and James Eaden
Issue No. 2777

Striking at Serco

Striking at Serco (Pic: James Eaden)

“We are not just arms and legs, we’re not ten a penny” were some of the chants ringing out on the foggy picket line at the Serco Derbyshire Dales refuse depot.

Over 40 GMB union ­members have held two days of rock-solid strikes as part of their campaign for pay justice.

Outsourcer Serco, which has made mega profits over the last 18 months, on the back of the pandemic, is offering a pay deal worth 1.75 percent. That’s a real terms pay cut—and the strikers have rightly rejected it.

The 17p an hour extra is insulting for key workers who worked right through the dispute.

Workers are angry, not just over pay but with the ­bullying attitude of managers.


One striker said the strength of this action will have taught mangers that workers aren’t machines— they have brains too.

Bosses know that due to labour shortages drivers are leaving for better-paid work and they are hard to replace.

Workers are determined that if their company doesn’t shift they will be out on strike again.

They were excited by the solidarity messages from other refuse workers taking on Serco in Sandwell and Bexley.

Stagecoach bus drivers in the area called off a proposed strike because they won 4.5 percent. Their RMT union sent a message of ­solidarity to the picket line.

Readers of Socialist Worker have posted ­solidarity ­messages on their bins.

City Clean strikes win new deal in Brighton

Refuse workers for City Clean at Brighton and Hove council have won a new offer after two weeks' of strikes over conditions and unannounced changes to working schedules.

The GMB union is reported to have negotiated not only a pay increase for the whole of the City Clean workforce—drivers, loaders and street cleaning crews —but also around 1,000 low-paid workers across the city.

Within this group the increase could equate to an extra £1,000 a year for those at the bottom of the pay scale. It is expected to affect a predominantly female workforce across adult social care, schools and admin.


The GMB said the deal answered all the issues it had raised, and presented the deal to members on Monday who agreed to it.

The deal has to be ratified by the council. If it is the union will halt the strikes.

The ­City Clean dispute started as one over conditions, not pay, although their pay is bad.

The central issues were changes to rosters, arbitrary reorganisation of the rounds, staff shortages, and a general lack of respect for the workforce and their union.

Reports in the Argus local newspaper and the BBC barely made reference to these issues.

But they were ­certainly at the top of workers’ complaints.

Thanks to Steve Guy

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