Efforts to avert a strike by binmen in Brighton and Hove have broken down 24 hours before the walkout is due to begin.
The union agreed to come back to the table after a commitment from Brighton and Hove City Council not to use agency staff or contractors during the proposed strike.
The email said: “This administration will not sanction the use of agency or contract workers to do the regular work of legitimately striking council staff while those staff are out on strike.
“Accordingly, I am able to announce that all agency workers currently engaged in refuse collection and street cleaning will be withdrawn from service by 10pm on Thursday night (13 June), the day before the strike is due to begin, and agency workers will not be deployed in these areas during the strike week.”
The GMB said: “As a result of this commitment GMB has confirmed that it will engage in negotiations with the council to see if a way forward can be found.”
Mark Turner, the GMB branch secretary said: “This is a small first step for the council on the way to resolving this dispute.
“As a result GMB has confirmed that it is willing to attend talks to listen to what the council have to say.
“I will, however, say that there will need to be substantial movement in their position for industrial action to be averted.
“While our members do not take strike action lightly, they cannot be expected to accept these reductions to their take-home pay.
“I would like to thank those councillors in the administration who have supported our members and brought about this decision.”
But by lunchtime today (Thursday 13 June) the GMB said that it was disappointed that nothing new had emerged during the meeting this morning so unfortunately the strike would go ahead tomorrow.
The council said today: “A planned strike announced by the GMB trade union means that there will be no rubbish, recycling or street cleaning services for seven days from Friday 14 June, up to and including Thursday 20 June.
“Until the start of the formal industrial action on Friday 14 June we are working to keep as many of our services running on schedule as possible.
“Unfortunately targeted disruption means that some crews are not collecting from beside bins, roads are being missed and more vehicles are having problems than usual.
“Today, Thursday 13 June, we have three extra crews servicing recycling points across the city and clearing as much refuse as possible off the streets before services are suspended tomorrow.
“If your rubbish and recycling has been missed and you are able to do so, please take it to one of our household waste and recycling centres.”
Council chief executive Penny Thompson said in an open letter to residents yesterday (Wednesday 12 June): “First of all I would like to apologise and say how disappointed I am that we are now facing formal strike action for seven days beginning on Friday 14 June over our proposals to modernise our allowances system.
“We will continue to meet with our unions to encourage discussion to avoid this action.
“I am pleased that GMB has now agreed to attend a meeting this week. We are continuing to do everything we can to find an agreed settlement.
“This has never been about savings nor specifically CityClean.
“The proposals we have put forward will mean allowances are paid consistently and fairly to everyone across the council.
“At the moment there are variations and we are required by law to make sure the system is fair and transparent.
“While some staff will gain from our proposals, unfortunately some will see a reduction in their allowances so we have offered compensation in these cases.
“If planned industrial action does go ahead on Friday (13 June) it will unfortunately mean more disruption to our rubbish and recycling service.
“I would like to say sorry to residents for the problems we may encounter and we will do all we can to minimise disruption.
“In reality our options are limited. We can’t legally employ agency staff to do the work of striking workers.
“This week we have removed as much rubbish as possible.
“During the strike we would advise residents to put rubbish securely in bins or containers.
“If you can, we would ask for rubbish and recycling to be taken to one of the city’s rubbish and recycling sites in Old Shoreham Road and Wilson Avenue. These will be open for longer during the strike.
“We hope that residents and visitors will assist us by trying to minimise the build up of rubbish in the city.
“I am very sorry that our service is being affected during these talks.
“We will keep you up to date with developments on our website and through our contact centre.
“We’re doing everything we can to find a resolution.”
A senior East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service officer, Mark Matthews, the borough commander for Brighton and Hove, said that fire crews would step in if there was a fire or safety risk.
For example, if fire exits were blocked, crews would remove rubbish, he said.
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