Worthing binman speaks out amid GMB Union strike warning - 'Morale is at rock bottom'

A Worthing dustman has said morale among staff is at 'rock bottom' amid a dispute over pay and conditions which could lead to strike action.

Refuse collectors are set to vote on industrial action after new strike dates were announced in Sussex by GMB Union.

According to one Worthing dustman, the situation is worse than he has ever experienced after five years in the job.

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The HGV refuse driver, who has asked to remain anonymous, said: “Morale is at rock bottom.

GMB refuse collectors in Brighton successfully won improved pay, terms and conditions after a long-running strike at the end of last year. Photo: Eddie Mitchell

"We have been balloted. It’s down to wages, as well as the job itself and how hard it is getting.

“It’s also how little respect we get from management and some of the public.”

The binman said there is a great deal of concern over the terms and conditions of employment and ‘how they treat you in the office’.

“During lockdown, we were God’s gift,” added. “Now, we are just a pain in the backside if we are blocking the road.”

With a bin strike in Eastbourne ‘set to spread across Sussex’, GMB Union has launched a consultative ballot for drivers in Adur and Worthing.

“Adur and Worthing Council would do well to listen to the concerns of our members, rather than fight the inevitable like neighbouring Eastbourne Council,” read a statement from Mark Turner, GMB branch secretary.

He added: “Refuse collectors across the South Coast feel angry and unappreciated.

“They do a dirty and difficult job and should get the respect and pay they deserve — that’s all GMB members are asking for.

“No one seems to notice refuse collectors until they find their bins unemptied and the streets strewn with rubbish. Unfortunately, that’s what is about to happen.”

Further strike dates have now been announced from January 14 to 28, which will see up to 50,000 household affected.

A consultative ballot for refuse collectors in Adur and Worthing will close next Wednesday (January 19).

GMB refuse collectors in Brighton successfully won improved pay, terms and conditions after a long-running strike at the end of last year.

Adur and Worthing Councils arranged a meeting with GMB on Tuesday to ‘discover for the first time’ what issues it had to raise.

A spokesman added: “In the meantime we are continuing to conduct a review of the entire waste and recycling service in partnership with the officially recognised union, Unison.

“We applaud the tremendous work undertaken by teams during the pandemic who did not miss a collection round and have also recognised that, in some areas, terms and conditions of employment may need reviewing as we look to the future.

“In some cases this has already led to improved terms and we will continue this process in full consultation with the workforce.”