Bin strike set to continue until mid-November after union walks out of pay talks

Posted On 11 Oct 2021 at 2:02 pm

Rubbish piling up in Seven Dials last night. Picture by @consulthismusic on Twitter

UPDATE: The bin strike has been extended until mid-November after union reps walked out of a meeting where the council set out its latest pay offer.

The council said the GMB union, which represents the striking drivers, left before officers had finished setting out the pay offer.

The union told Brighton and Hove News it waited until the presentation was over, but then walked out because the offer had “gone backwards” on previous ones.

It later said it was now balloting refuse collectors and street cleaners – and that the drivers’ walkout was being extended by 15 days to mid-November.

Drivers had been due to strike for another week, then return to work before striking again from 21 October until 3 November.

Cityclean refuse truck drivers voted to strike last month over changes to bins rounds and other variations to duties, and the knock on effect on their health.

However, Brighton and Hove City Council today said the GMB union, which represents the drivers, raised pay as an issue during talks on the first day of the strike on 5 October.

A pay offer was put to them on the second day – and rejected on the third.

Today, council officers and union reps met again and a second “significant” pay offer which would benefit all council staff was being put forward – but the council says union reps walked out before the full details had been set out.

Councillor Hannah Clare, deputy leader of the council said: “Today we once again met with the GMB, to put a further, additional formal offer to them to resolve the dispute, this time involving increased pay.

“It’s our view that while pay was not on the original ballot, this increased pay offer is a positive attempt to recognise the hard work of not just city clean staff – but all staff working across the council.

“We’re disappointed that the GMB walked out of the room before discussing this offer with us.

“There are long term issues with the City Clean service that we’re keen to resolve, and we believe that discussion is crucial. Only by staying around the table can a good outcome can be reached, both for staff and for residents of our city.

“We are really keen to keep discussing this latest offer with the GMB and hope they will reconsider their walk-out today and resume talks. Our door remains open to talk any of this through with GMB reps.”

A spokesman said: “It’s disappointing that this offer has been turned down today. It was a significant and generous offer which would benefit not just staff in the Cityclean service, but also staff across the whole council.

“We urge the GMB to review the offer formally submitted to them in writing and come back to the table to discuss with us.”

Mark Turner, general secretary of GMB Sussex branch, said the latest offer had “gone backwards” from the previous one and accused the council of issuing “propaganda”.

He said: “They presented their offer which we left on the basis it’s gone backwards. It’s worse than the situation we started.

“They offered pay increases to the drivers on the basis they believed they’re having trouble recruiting.

“If they put a proposal that benefits the rest of the workforce, then that’s great, but we are dealing with an issue with a workforce that has raised issues with them.

“They need to improve the offer. They’re not even meeting us halfway.”

If agreement cannot be reached, all resolution options including the resolution proposal from the GMB will now be tabled in a report to go to a P&R Urgency Sub-Committee meeting to be decided on by councillors.

This is meeting is expected to take place this week.

  1. bradly23 Reply

    talk about moving the goal posts! suddenly, the 54 rubbishmen want more money not just warm underwear…
    get the lawyers involved and use the breach of ballot details to allow strike-busters to tidy up….

    • Pete Reply

      This is getting beyond a joke for residents, with all the rubbish on the streets now ripped open by animals, going to take forever to deal with, as half the time my bin doesn’t get collected.
      There plenty of people that would jump at the chance to earn a sensible salary and conditions they have.

  2. fed-up with brighton politics Reply

    Totally agree, bradly23.’Up to 54′ drivers/sheep, plus a few well-paid GMB bullies, are holding us all to ransom and the Greens/council officers/executives have no answers at all, except to hike pay for all council employees, which would then end up on our council tax bills. This is way beyond pathetic – we are a city of more than 250,000 people who seem to have no say or clout about any of this, being blackmailed by ‘up to 54’ sheep.

    I notice that Phelim is still not getting involved, leaving it all to Hannah Clare. I await with interest the make-up of the emergency Policy and Resources sub-committee which may meet this week.

    You couldn’t make this up. This is like the 1970s/80s, which we hoped we’d left behind, but Turner/Palmer and their sheep are still stuck in the past.

  3. Jon Reply

    It’s just about the HGV driver shortage and the 54 GMB members seeing drivers in the private sector getting big pay rises.

    Standing on the picket line saying it’s about workers rights, harassment health and the Greens it’s BS

    They have a right to go on strike but can’t the GMB just be honest ? They don’t give a **** about the damage they’re causing just tell us how much they want ?

  4. Chris Reply

    If I was one of the 54 drivers I would be annoyed with my union for walking out of talks without discussing them. I am am a member of a different union and if I was on strike (and therefore not being paid) I would expect my representatives to do everything possible to sort the situation out and use every possible minute to discuss with the council ways forward and not just to flounce out of meetings after a couple of minutes.

    • Jane Reply

      They are being paid by the GMB to strike.

  5. Chaz. Reply

    Any news from Mrs Spock yet on how her proteges are messing up Brighton?
    Nah, thought not.

  6. Alessandro Reply

    It’s going to be such a lovely Christmas

  7. Edit Reply

    I don’t understand… why don’t you just hire people who want to do the job? I mean it’s just waste collection not rocket science. How much money do you want? Shall teachers do the same and leave your kids at school without looking after them just because they are not paid well enough? Have a think. Both important jobs, true, but know your limits. How about the famous Xmas Market? Is it now going to happen in the middle of the mess? Ridiculous. People pay s loads of council tax. Brighton should be a decent city but it is not as some people are clearly spending the money on something else… disgraceful!

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