Eastbourne bin strike: Vehicle allowed to leave depot

A vehicle was allowed to leave Courtlands Road depot in Eastbourne today (Monday, January 17) amid a bin collection strike in the town.

A vehicle was allowed to leave Courtlands Road depot in Eastbourne today (Monday, January 17) amid a bin collection strike in the town.

According to Gary Palmer, who is a regional organiser at trade union GMB, those on strike allowed the vehicle to carry out its work as the staff member was a HGV driver.

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Mr Palmer said, “He regularly does that job. He works here.

GMB regional organiser Gary Palmer SUS-220117-124137001

“We spoke to him, it was all very amicable.

“I told him about the dispute, asked him not to leave. He said he would like to go out and do the work and the guys stood aside and he was allowed to go out and do it, and quite rightly.

“If they are a legitimate HGV driver then they will be allowed to go about their job.”

The GMB organiser explained that he only has a problem with non-HGV drivers using the vehicles.

Mr Palmer said if a HGV is being driven by someone who he believes is wrong, then they could add more days to the strike.

He said, “We are in this for the long haul. These guys deserve a pay rise, they deserve respect, they deserve to be valued for the job they are doing.

“We want respect, we want the pay and GMB will back these guys all the way.”

GMB met with Eastbourne Borough Council earlier today, although there is currently no news from the meeting, and Mr Palmer said the current offer of a seven per cent pay rise for HGV drivers and a three per cent increase for refuse collectors is not acceptable.

He said, “Seven per cent of a very low wage is absolutely rubbish. It is nothing. It is not worth it.”

Mr Palmer said he is hoping that HGV drivers can get £13.50 an hour.

The GMB organiser added, “If 19 people are taken out of the service and the service can’t be delivered, it shows you how valuable these 19 are.”

Patrick Sweeny, who is a HGV driver on strike, said the offer of seven and three per cent pay rises is ‘nothing’.

He said, “That is off the table, 100 per cent off the table. As far as we are concerned here, it is nothing.”

Mr Sweeny said, “I think it is very important. It is not that we are demanding stuff, we are not demanding anything, we are requesting. We are requesting what I would classify to be a reasonable living wage and I don’t think that £13.50 is anything above a reasonable living wage.”

Mr Sweeny said when staff returned following the first strike they worked ‘as fast as we possibly could’ to clear the backlog of rubbish.

He said, “That is the one thing we will do again. We don’t want to be stood here on strike, we don’t want any pressure to be put on the residents of Eastbourne, we want to be able to do our jobs.”

A council spokesperson said, “It is unlawful for the GMB Union to block any vehicle leaving the Courtlands Road depot. Sussex Police continue to monitor the situation closely.

“Just 19 out of 88 staff are on strike.

“In addition to being unlawful, it is wholly wrong that a trade union is prepared to prevent people who want to work from collecting the refuse and recycling from local homes.”