Adur and Worthing bin strike 'almost inevitable' according to union

Refuse workers in Adur and Worthing have voted in favour of a bin strike ballot.

That’s according to the GMB Union, which said industrial unrest and residents rubbish and recycling being uncollected ‘are almost inevitable’. It said this was due to the council’s ‘refusal to negotiate’ with their workers’ ‘union of choice’.

A spokesperson said: “GMB, the union for all refuse, and recycling workers, have concluded the last consultative internal steps required by the GMB for its members, before refuse, recycling, HGV drivers and operatives, along with their colleagues in streets working in Adur and Worthing, can be formally balloted.”

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The union said it currently has 48 members and the ‘overwhelming’ result was on a 92.5 per cent turnout, ‘with 100 per cent voting’ that they would take industrial strike action.

Refuse collectors have voted on industrial action in Adur and Worthing after a strike was held in Eastbourne (pictured). This came to an end on Tuesday, as staff accepted a 19 per cent pay rise.

Its statement added: “Although not in itself a direct ballot for strike action, [this was] a real indicator of the very strong strength of feeling in favour of doing so to get a pay rise recognising their true worth and value within the service as well as wishing to address several operational issues and poor managerial behaviour towards our members.”

The union said that if workers do not receive a pay offer 'reflecting the value of their work', 'members are very clear they will go on strike'.

“We would apologise in advance for any inconvenience caused to the public by unemptied bins," GMB said.

Refuse collectors have voted on industrial action in Adur and Worthing after a strike was held in Eastbourne. This came to an end on Tuesday, as staff accepted a 19 per cent pay rise.

Gary Palmer, GMB regional organiser, said they are not ‘simply going to go away’, adding: “We take our members complaints and claim for a pay rise that reflects their true value very seriously.

GMB said the offer includes a minimum rise this year of 11 per cent and a guarantee their hourly rate will reach a minimum of £13.50 per hour in April 2023 – a 19 per cent rise in total.

A consultative ballot for Adur and Worthing ended today (Wednesday, January 19).

Adur & Worthing Councils stated that, ‘unlike Brighton and Eastbourne’ the GMB is not the recognised union in the district.

The council previously stated that it ‘welcomed the opportunity’ to discuss with the GMB Union ‘their issues surrounding our waste and recycling services’ at a meeting last Thursday (January 13).

A spokesman said: “As councils, we take the matter of terms and conditions for all staff here very seriously indeed and we are working collectively as authorities to do our best to ensure staff across all services are adequately rewarded within the confines of very tight budgets.

“We welcomed the opportunity last week to discuss with the GMB their issues surrounding our waste and recycling services because we are committed to a thorough review of operations post pandemic and into the future. This review began in October and is ongoing. All views are welcome.

“We were unable to ascertain much detail as to the exact nature of the complaints but we were pleased that, in almost all cases, the headline issues GMB representatives raised are already within the scope of the review we are conducting at present.”

The councils said it remains in ‘full dialogue’ with the representatives of UNISON - the ‘recognised union within the service’.

The councils committed to ‘reporting back on many concerns’ surrounding terms and conditions ‘by the end of February’.

The spokesman added: “This has already seen an uplift in HGV drivers’ rates of pay in recognition of current market conditions and the need to deliver a first class service.

“We are confident that if the GMB were the officially recognised union here they would expect us to conduct business in exactly the same way.

“The councils are rightly proud of the service provided by our teams and crews who during the pandemic did not miss a collection.

“It is our hope that we can conduct this review in a spirit of cooperation, finding as many solutions as possible to reflect the hard work of our staff but also protect the excellent service they provide to residents.”

Mark Turner, GMB B50 branch secretary, said the union has ‘tried to speak’ to the council ‘to bring issues and a pay claim to their attention’.

However, it claimed it was told by staff that they would ‘not negotiate’ with the GMB Union ‘on any account’

Mr Turner added: “That’s fine with me and fine with my members and hopefully it will remain fine with the elected councillors and residents in Adur and Worthing when the dispute escalates into a long and protracted strike, should our members support it.

“The issue is that someone at the council will need to take responsibility and ask to speak to us, if the dispute is not going to mirror recent strikes with rubbish piling up in the streets similar to recent GMB campaigns in Brighton and Eastbourne.”

Gary Palmer, GMB regional organiser, said they are not ‘simply going to go away’, adding: “We take our members complaints and claim for a pay rise that reflects their true value very seriously.

“Like many other management teams, both Mark and I have dealt with, they appear to not take GMB promises to support our members through strike action as genuine until picket lines form and residential bins remain unemptied and streets full of rubbish.”

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