Refuse workers to strike over job losses and ‘bullying culture

Council refuse workers are set to strike as the council swings the axe on 122 waste collection jobs amid claims of ‘a bullying culture’ and financial incompetence says Unite.

The refuse workers, members of the union will strike at 10:45 ending at 15:37 on Friday 30 June. There will also be a series of two-hour stoppages commencing at 06:00 on: 3, 11, 19 and 27 July and 4 August.

There will also be an overtime ban with workers adhering to their contracted hours (06.00 to 15.37), plus returning to depots for all lunch and tea breaks, also starting on 30 June.

Unite said that the overspend for the 2016/17 financial year, previously thought to be £9.7 million, had been confirmed by a top council boss as rising to £11.9 million contradicting the authority’s previous press statements that these cuts were due to budget cuts and austerity measures.

Unite regional officer Lynne Shakespeare has written to the city council’s chief executive Stella Manzie calling for talks under the auspices of the conciliation service, Acas, as since the council was informed about the industrial action, management has refused to talk to Unite to resolve the issues.

Commenting on the dispute, Lynne Shakespeare said: “The council’s actions have managed to combine financial incompetence in the waste management team and now they have started bullying our members as the bosses attempt to cut full-time jobs.

“The council wants to axe 122 waste collection jobs after a woefully inadequate consultation with the unions.

“The process was a sham, bordering on a farce – and that’s why Unite members will be taking strike action to protect services to the public in the UK’s biggest local authority.

“Unite also wants to preserve their jobs from an unnecessary cuts programme which has also seen a sharp increase of agency staff replacing permanent workers which is of no benefit to anyone.”

In her letter to Ms Manzie, Lynne Shakespeare said: “This situation cannot go on any longer hence our action ballot. I would invite you to join with us in non-binding conciliation with Acas as otherwise we shall have no alternative but to increase our action and fight this campaign on the streets, in the media and in the courts, if we need to.”

Unite members voted by 90 per cent for strike action over proposed job cuts to the city’s waste and refuse service and attempts by council bosses to tear up long standing agreements with the union covering staffing levels and working patterns. The workers also voted by 93 per cent for industrial action short of a strike.

The ballot results came on the same day as council bosses announced that they intended to make 122 waste collection staff redundant by the beginning of July which is about 20 per cent of the actual refuse collection squad.