By A Unite union member
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Coventry bin strike supporters protest outside Labour council’s scab depot

The Labour-run council in Coventry is organising scab labour to break the bin workers' strike
Issue 2084
12 people stand outside a depot in support of the Coventry bin strike, some wave placards

Supporters of the Coventry bin strike picket the depot (Picture: Coventry SWP on Twitter)

Supporters of the Coventry bin strike blocked trucks from leaving the Tom White Waste (TWW) depot on Friday morning. The Labour-run council is using its wholly-owned company for scab labour in an attempt to break the Unite union members’ long-running pay strike. 

The protest started at 6am and ended at 8.40am when the protestors themselves decided they’d made their point. No trucks left the site. Protesters faced down the only one that tried to force its way through. 

Police were there in numbers from 8am onwards. Tom White management called in more and more private security throughout the picket, but the protest continued. Someone senior in Coventry City Council is approving yet more money for these security guards to try and beat the strike. 

The local authority put out a statement claiming this protest was illegal—it wasn’t and won’t be. The Labour council appears to think the right to protest no longer exists within its boundaries. 

Strikers cheered news of the protest on the picket line, where morale remains high. There are rumours that the council is open with Unite about its ability to meet the drivers’ claim. But the council has shown its duplicity in the past—and strikers shouldn’t trust bosses til it’s done and dusted. And the drivers rightly insist that they will not return to work while Unite deputy convenor Pete Randle is suspended. 

The drivers must not take their foot off the pedal while these informal talks are taking place—and must keep up the pressure. 

  • Unite should call and then build for a national solidarity day on the picket lines for trade unionists to come and show their support. This would help boost the confidence of the bin collectors if they ballot—and of the TWW skip drivers to join the union. But it has to be built properly, which means officials getting on the phones and persuading Unite reps and officials to attend.  
  • Pickets must continue outside Tom White—and it’d be better if the bin strikers headed it up themselves.
  • There are a host of Unite regional sector meetings taking place this month and next month. Unite could organise them in the Coventry office and have delegates visit the picket lines. But wherever these meetings are held, a speaker from the dispute should be invited.
  • The collectors must be balloted as soon as possible and the union must do whatever is necessary to win an overwhelming result for strikes. Their ballot should include the need for their pay to increase as the cost of living crisis bites. 
  • The strike must spread to other Unite sectors in the council—for example, the highways staff.
  • The Tom White drivers employed not on scabbing must be approached persistently and consistently to be brought into the union’s claim for the council drivers and merged into one battle. Local activists will help outside TWW if required. 
  • The union must renew and beef up calls for solidarity donations from trade union branches. 

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