OPINION

Labour injects a sense of urgency to end the bin strike

Posted On 15 Oct 2021 at 2:12 pm

Prior to the special Policy and Resources Committee meeting on Wednesday, I visited the picket line at the Hollingdean depot to talk to some of the drivers who have been striking.

I was struck by the pride they take in their work and their willingness to get on with the job and clear the city once the bin dispute is settled.

Sadly, the drivers feel very discontented with management, particularly highlighting a lack of respect for them and a failure to have regular meetings with management. They also highlighted health and safety concerns, in part due to the ageing fleet of vehicles.

Labour are determined to help resolve the dispute and bring the officers, administration and the union around the table, with an independent mediator, to negotiate a way forward.

These drivers were celebrated as key workers just three months ago. Now they are apparently told they are not professional and their views and opinions are not valued despite some of them having 40 years’ experience.

After asking some very searching questions, Labour moved an amendment at the committee meeting, which injects a sense of urgency into resolving the dispute and looks to bring in an independent mediator as well as seeking to reduce fire risk by seeking a dispensation to clear rubbish from communal bin stores.

The questions and discussions were positive and elicited interesting information around where the negotiations had gone wrong.

Then, Conservative councillor Joe Miller seemed to compare the unions and Cityclean workers to terrorists to bolster his demand that we should just bring in private contractors to sort this out, and “get tough” with the GMB.

The Labour councillors in the room were all members of the GMB (as am I) so this got short shrift. This sort of union-bashing rhetoric will do nothing to help resolve any industrial dispute, and it was disappointing that the meeting was marred by these remarks.

Nonetheless, Labour won support for our amendment which should help pave the way to ending the dispute.

While it remains incumbent on the Green administration to negotiate with the union to end the bin strike in the interest of residents and businesses, we have given the council the tools to resolve this dispute and we are all depending on them to do so.

Councillor Carmen Appich is the joint Labour opposition leader on Brighton and Hove City Council.

  1. Linda Jameson Reply

    “Sense of urgency”? – your amendment looks more like kicking it down the road, presumably to the GMB more of what they want considering they pay for most of the leaflets you pour through our doors.

    And correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t all of these issues start when you were in charge? Much like the binmen, you’ve left someone else to clear up your mess.

    • Chaz. Reply

      Too true.
      Vote Labour you get Green.
      Vote Green you get Labour.
      Both as useless as each other.

  2. Bill Smythe Reply

    Absolutely right, an unfair payment by Labour decades ago and bullied through Equalities Legislation because of the fear of Refuse Mafia. Even The Private Sector back off. Meanwhile these bullies are paid much more more than Careworkers, whose jobs will have to be cut to pay Drivers who work less hours than they are paid for and intimidate a powerless management

  3. Greens Out Reply

    The Labour councillors in the room were all members of the GMB (as am I)“

    And this here is part of the problem.

    As a councillor you are elected to represent the people of your ward. That means ALL the residents of your ward.

    During a period as a councillor I firmly believe that any union connections should be withdrawn as it’s clear there will, at times, be a huge conflict of interest and you may we’ll be seen to be pandering to said union.

    Which you are.

  4. fed-up with brighton politics Reply

    Wouldn’t make any difference, Greens Out. They would still be GMB at heart, even if they cosmetically withdrew membership for the duration of their appointments etc. Once, many decades ago, during the ‘closed shop’ era (1970s??), I was forced to join the GMB, along with all my colleagues, and pay subs out of a fairly meagre wage at the time, because our employer, a major national but still public sector entity, had done a deal with the union to avoid major financial disruption to their business. There was no choice about these subs, which we resented hugely. We were technically employed by that national entity but completely separate. We were not ‘Municipal’ or ‘Boilermakers’ – maybe they could get a more appropriate 21st century title??) and I have no idea what ‘General’ is supposed to mean, but we were included. (The situation didn’t last that long, as we were privatised, and the ‘closed shop’ thing went out of the window.) However, at the time, everyone who was a member of the GMB, whether willingly or not, and many weren’t, but membership was compulsory, was occasionally called on to ‘work to rule’, or even strike, although in our case we had no idea what these rules were supposed to be (we just did our normal jobs, as we were not municipal or making boilers or anything like that and we didn’t strike, and nothing bad happened to us – they just took the subs and didn’t even know we existed).

    Seriously though, Greens Out, may I ask genuinely (I mean that) what kind of job you do (generally speaking, without revealing clues to your identity) and how come you are a GMB member?

    • Greens Out Reply

      I’m not a member of any union thank you very much!

  5. James Reply

    Lol. Conflict of interest as a GMB member?

  6. James Reply

    Good old labour, blame every one else.

  7. James Reply

    When I worked as a volunteer for a local credit union (funded partly by the council) I had arguments about conflict of interests etc. Seems to be a theme.

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