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Refuse collectors challenge bosses’ plans

This article is over 15 years, 5 months old
Three strikes by refuse collectors have seen workers take on punishing cuts, harsher conditions and crucial aspects of health and safety.
Issue 2012


Refuse workers in the north London borough of Haringey began an indefinite strike on Monday.

The 48 workers, members of the T&G union, are on strike against devastating cuts and attacks on safety.

Paul Fawcett, T&G regional industrial organiser and spokesperson for the strikers says, “Haringey Accord, the company which runs the waste services, wants to cut two vehicles but still expects our people to complete their rounds in the same amount of time.

“We say it can’t be done. It’s like trying to fit a quart into a pint bottle.”

Haringey Accord had offered £1,450 to each of the refuse collectors to accept the cuts.

But they all rejected the cash as a sign that they were more interested in working in a safe service that paid respect to health and safety.

The workers unanimously supported strikes in a ballot in March. Talks did not produce a deal.


Refuse collectors based at the Riverside depot in Trowbridge, West Wiltshire, went on strike last week in a dispute over working conditions.

The strike is over excessive overtime and changes to working patterns, workloads and routes without consultation.

GMB union organiser Kevin Brandstatter said, “The council has moved to a new collection system which adversely affects workers. We have tried very hard to resolve this dispute with contractor Cleanaway, but to no avail.

“All our members want is the ability to return to the depot at a reasonable time in order to spend time with their families.”

The workers say the current workload on staff is excessive and has resulted in increased sickness absence levels.

They have also voted to work to rule after the strike, returning to the Riverway depot in Trowbridge by the contracted time of 3.15pm rather than working on in order to finish routes.


Approximately 25,000 homes in Bromley were affected by unofficial strike action at Veolia Environment on Wednesday of last week.

Refuse collectors took action over health and safety because of the temperatures they were expected to work in.

Management refused to allow the workers to wear shorts to work.

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