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Bin workers’ pay strikes spread + Glasgow council workers’ strike off

Adur and Worthing strikers say the dispute has given them a liberating boost
Issue 2798
Adur and Worthing refuse strikers in yellow hi-vis jackets gold orange and black GMB union flags

Bin workers standing firm at Adur and Worthing (Pic: GMB Southern)

Bin workers in several councils continue to hit back at rubbish pay and bad conditions. Striking Adur and Worthing bin workers are now into their third week of strikes. Their GMB union agreed to preliminary talks with the council this week but did not commit to calling off the strikes. And workers at a mass meeting made it clear they wanted to stay out.

The ultimate objective of the strike is for all affected workers to be escalated up the grading system. 

They want to go onto the top incremental level of the next grade. 

The pickets have been attended by over two-thirds of the workforce and their determination remains undiminished. Many have spoken of the almost liberating effect of the strike after years of below-inflation pay rises, or no pay rises at all.

And they tell of years of management abuses and casual indifference to them as workers, as people, and how, as a result of standing up for themselves, they are starting to inspire some respect for their efforts doing a job that everybody takes for granted, but very few have high regard for.

The strike has changed all that, and they are heartened by the news that the bosses have approached their union, the GMB, for talks about pay, and a recognition agreement. Neither would have been on the table prior to the strike. But until there is something on the table, the strike will continue into its fourth week.

In a gesture of solidarity, Gary Palmer, their full-time official, also sent fraternal greetings and expressed solidarity from the picket line to the UCU university lecturers on strike this week.

Refuse collectors in Barrow will strike for a ­further six days after bosses at FCC Environment offered them a real term pay cut. 

Bin workers have already ­completed nine days of strikes this year and were set to walk out on Wednesday. Then strikers will return to picket lines again from Wednesday of next week. 

In Manchester around 200 workers employed by waste management company Biffa also plan to strike. 

Biffa refuses to raise ­workers wages above the 1.75 percent that other local government workers had been offered last year. 

And also against Biffa, workers at East Sussex Joint Waste Partnership depots at Hailsham and Uckfield are completing a strike ballot. 

Biffa provides refuse and recycling services across the Wealden district for around 70,000 homes. GMB ­members are demanding pay rises which would see loaders on £12.50 an hour and HGV drivers on £17.50 an hour

Workers for North Somerset council plan to strike after the North Somerset Environment Company offered just a 4.5 percent pay award—over two years. 

Earlier this month almost 100 workers voted to take action to improve their pay. 

Tim Northover, GMB regional organiser said, “More members are joining every day.” 

A five-day strike involving 100 bin workers in Solihull against outsourcer Amey has been called off after bosses offered a 5.26 percent pay deal. GMB’s membership has doubled during the dispute. 

But, rightly, workers almost chucked out the offer. It’s still well below inflation and 44 percent of workers voted to reject.

Thanks to Steve Guy

Strikes off in Glasgow as council makes concession  

Trade unions in Glasgow were celebrating last week as threats of walkouts forced the city council to make key concessions.

Unison, Unite and GMB members were due to strike on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. 

The 12,000 workers are battling to get the council to honour its promises in their long running battle over equal pay.

Strikes in 2018 won workers a lump sum paid out the following year and promises of a new pay scale to overhaul the old sexist system that saw women paid less than men.

They are now fighting for another lump sum since the new pay scale isn’t due to be implemented for several more years.

The council has now pledged to honour the system for working out 2019 lump sums, and new amounts will be paid to workers by October.

The Unison Glasgow branch said, “Well done to members who so clearly demonstrated their willingness to strike. Let’s maintain and build on the organising we have done. There will be further battles ahead no doubt.”

Strike dates for 20 and 21 April are still live—workers should be prepared to walk out to focus the council’s mind once again. 

  • Campaigners opposing the closure of Glasgow cultural venues were set to protest on Tuesday this week. Venues including the People’s Palace and Winter Gardens, and St Mungo’s Museums have been shut for over two years.

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