BIN WORKERS in Brighton have scored another success against privatisation after the council turned down the Serviceteam firm last week. It is their second blow to the New Labour council’s efforts to privatise the service.
Brighton and Hove councillors agreed last week to reject Serviceteam’s bid to run the waste service and instead keep the bins under council control. New Labour has been under constant pressure from workers fighting to stop the sell-off.
Some 250 workers, members of the GMB union, took unofficial strike action and occupied the Hollingdean bin depot in Brighton for four days in June against privatisation. The battle started after their bosses in the multinational Sita told street sweepers they would have to increase their rounds to 36 miles a day. The workers forced the New Labour council to disown Sita, and its bosses agreed to pay £3 million to terminate its contract.
Gary Smith, one of the GMB union officials, spoke to Socialist Worker in August about the victory over Sita, saying, ‘Private firms are already profiting from running the portering and cleaning services in Brighton’s hospitals.
‘Trade union members stood up for themselves and fought back. The lesson people took away was that if we stand together we can win.’ Council leader Ken Bodfish immediately set about trying to find a new firm to take over the service.
But now the council has been forced to retreat from its unpopular sell-off plan. A worker, Frank Henderson, said, ‘It will be better for the public under council control. They shouldn’t have privatised it in the first place.’
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