By Tomáš Tengely-Evans
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Anger at outsourcer sees Tower Hamlets bin depot blockaded

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Issue 2695
Bin workers showing determination on the picket line
Bin workers showing determination on the picket line (Pic: Socialist Worker)

There were defiant scenes outside bin depots in east London on Monday as striking workers refused to let managers, scabs and lorries move.

It marked the first day of an eight-day walkout by 250 bin workers in Tower Hamlets.

Unite union members are demanding that subcontractor Veolia coughs up thousands of pounds in holiday pay arrears.

Workers mounted pickets from 5am outside Veolia’s Solvocea Way depot in Canning Town and Southern Grove depot in Bow.

Terry, a Unite senior shop steward, told Socialist Worker that “no lorries moved in, nothing has moved” because of the mass pickets.

“There is solid support,” he said. “We voted 96.5 percent for strikes.”

Jason, another Unite rep, told Socialist Worker, “They tried to bring in managers and staff from other contracts in.

“But we stood our ground and said, ‘You’re not going in’.”


It is a reminder of what picket lines are supposed to be about.

Workers are owed up to up to £9,000 in holiday pay arrears.

In 2014 an Employment Appeal Tribunal ruled that bosses have to factor in overtime and other premiums, not just basic pay, when calculating holiday pay.

So, to protect the bosses from payouts, the Tory-Liberal government said claims could only be backdated two years.

Steve said bosses wanted to reduce the period during which workers can claim still further.

Terry said that Veolia had “frustrated” the claims by making individuals go through a drawn out process, instead of settling the claim collectively.

“They settled with around 43 people, but that leaves around 216 who haven’t been paid,” he said.

“But even workers who have been paid are out here.”

Jason said that bosses “had not made people aware of it” to try to get around paying workers what they’re owed”.

Workers are picketing every day from 5am to 3pm. Trade unionists should join the picket lines and build solidarity for the dispute. 

Messages of support to [email protected]

Defending conditions and homeless services

Workers at the St Mungo’s homelessness charity have called for their boss to climb down ahead of walkouts against a “race to the bottom”.

Around 500 Unite union members plan to begin a three-day strike next Monday against attempts to push through worse terms and conditions.

Unite says that removing the junior staff cap agreement would allow the charity to bring in a cheaper workforce.

Tabusam Ahmed, a Unite regional officer, said, “CEO Howard Sinclair has lost the trust of our members.

“They are on the frontline dealing with some of society’s most marginalised and vulnerable people.

“He must step down immediately.” Ahmed added, “This strike isn’t about money, it’s about protecting jobs and defending the safety and high quality services our members deliver.

Other issues include a punitive sickness policy, the way disciplinary procedures are used, and St Mungo’s failure to provide reassurances around the safety of rough sleepers over immigration enforcement.

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