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Bin workers’ battles: Coventry, Rugby, Wealden and Manchester

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Workers know there is a shortage of HGV drivers, and they want respect after their work during the pandemic
Issue 2803
About 35 striking Wealden bin workers in orange clothing with fists raised and orange and black GMB union flags

Defiant Wealden bin workers on strike on Monday

Coventry strikers take on the rotten Labour council

Striking HGV drivers in Coventry held a rally on Tuesday to demand bosses at the Labour-run council “pay the rate”.

The workers, on all‑out strike, are battling the council’s scabbing operation through Tom White Waste, a company that it fully owns. And the council has suspended Unite union rep Pete Randle.

In a recent survey, 67 percent of Coventry residents agreed the demand for market rate pay is reasonable.

The council has tried to turn local people against the strikers by lying about how much they earn.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham has already suspended Unite membership for Coventry’s councillors.

Graham said, “It’s quite clear that the people of Coventry are well and truly fed up with the council’s conduct during this dispute.

“Only a foolish council would ignore such clear and direct instructions from their own residents.”

The 70 drivers began all-out action at the end of January, with the dispute and scabbing operation costing the council millions.

In the Coventry council elections this week Socialist Worker called for a vote for Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition candidates.

  • March and rally Tue 3 May, 11am, Friargate, CV1 2GN to Coventry Council House, CV1 5RR
  • Donate to the strike fund: Unity Trust Bank a/c Unite WM/7116 Branch Coventry Local Government, Sort code: 60-83-01, a/c number: 20302665 Messages of support to [email protected]

Rugby fights over low pay

Bin collection and street cleaning workers in Rugby are halfway through a two-week strike. GMB and Unite union members are fighting over pay.

Only four trucks were out working last week and two had just one collector and loader.

Management is offering workers in the housing department £24 an hour to go out bin collecting. But housing workers are angry that the council is trying to bully them into doing bin collection work.

And Unison union members have also refused to cross a picket line. Unison officials have told them it is not their strike and will not get any strike pay.

  • Picket the Council Work Service Unit, 94 Newbold Rd, Rugby, CV21 1DH, 7am-10am daily until Tue 10 May

Battling Biffa over pay in Wealden

Refuse collectors employed by Biffa within Wealden District Council in east Sussex began a two-week strike over pay on Monday.

There was strong picketing by GMB union members at the Amberstone depot in Hailsham and the Bellbrook depot in Uckfield.

Strikers were enraged that the Labour-led Hastings Borough Council—unconnected to the dispute— allowed Biffa to use its depots to organise attempted strike-beating work.

Trade council activists protested at these depots

GMB Sussex branch said, “A Labour council is in bed with a private sector company in a dispute there is nothing to do with them supporting them to bust and undermine our lawful strike action in another local authority.

“The so-called Labour group on Hastings Council who allegedly support workers are very much in bed with Biffa waste to undermine our lawful industrial dispute in the Wealden district council, which is Conservative-run. They should be ashamed of themselves

Wealden is the latest part of the south of England affected by bin strikes following a six week walkout in Adur and Worthing.

Previous bin workers’ strikes have also taken place recently in Brighton and Hove and Eastbourne.

They have all won real gains. Now Wealden has to keep up the fight until victory.

Simon Hester

Bosses initially offered them a tiny 1.75 percent pay rise.

Now Biffa bosses have conceded a two-year pay deal that will see HGV drivers receive a 22 percent rise.

Loaders will receive an 11 percent rise and street cleaning workers will get between 8 and 11 percent.

Given it’s a two-year deal, that’s still lower than the rate of inflation for most.

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