OPINION

Strikes like this are the result of failure – it must end without further delay

Posted On 15 Oct 2021 at 6:39 pm

Our bins are overflowing, our streets are a mess. Worse, it’s not the first time this has happened in recent years.

I want you to know in no uncertain terms that I find this situation as appalling as you do. Even though I have no control over our local services because things like refuse collection is the responsibility of the council, I want you to know that I’ve met with council bosses and made perfectly clear the strength of my feeling on this.

Industrial action of this nature is the result of failure. It’s the end of the road and, to have got to this point, many opportunities to change course will have been missed.

I have been aware of ongoing problems with the service for some time. Refuse workers have had growing frustration with changes forced on them at short notice, with pay and other aspects of the organisation’s management.

The council similarly has frustrations and have been keen to make changes to the way staff and resources are allocated, sometimes at short notice.

But this has been going on for ages. If things continued to head in the wrong direction then creative thinking should have been applied and a new way forward should have been found.

For example, faced with a similar situation, the last Labour administration brought in a fully independent facilitator to which it agreed to be bound. It led to swift resolution of a complex situation and averted the threat of all-out strike action.

It frustrates me so much that the current Green administration seems incapable of acting with the same degree of flexibility and creativity in the face of such an important issue.

The ballot for strike action generated 100 per cent support on 80 per cent turnout. It is within the law and workers are exercising their right but it should never have descended to the point where the industrial “nuclear option” should have been needed in the first place.

This situation is good for no one. It’s lose-lose. Refuse workers have lost two weeks of pay in an economic climate that is really tough for workers and their families. Every resident and visitor in our city is faced with rubbish piled high and drifting across our neighbourhoods. It’s disgusting.

And as for the Green Party, once again their reputation as a party capable of running an authority is in tatters.

In the past 18 months they’ve cut down Europe’s oldest and longest “green wall”, turned the desirable goal of making cycling easier and safer into an issue that divides communities against each other, and once again failed to get rubbish and recycling cleaned from our streets.

It’s really hard to understand because the Greens seem to be really bad at the very things you’d assume they care most about.

No one wins from this situation but it must be brought to an end without further delay. More of the same won’t work and will lead to more suffering so I’m calling on the council to offer a new way forward and for the GMB union to be open-minded if they do.

Disputes like this provoke huge anger and resentment among those negotiating. Please don’t let this get in the way of a solution because residents across our city are counting on you.

I will continue to engage with council bosses to make your voice, concerns and frustrations heard loud and clear. I stand ready to help in any way that could possibly make a difference.

Like you I want this horrible situation resolved and will do whatever it takes to get us there.

Peter Kyle is the Labour MP for Hove.

This post was first published on Peter Kyle’s Facebook page.

  1. Linda Jameson Reply

    A lot of nonsense point scoring and little facts here I’m afraid. The current problems with rounds started under your labour administration but you’re blaming the people cleaning up your mess?

  2. Chaz. Reply

    Where is the only Green MP?
    Has she gone in hiding again when the Green council falls apart?
    What a useless Green MP she is and what a useless Green council.
    Just pathetic.

  3. Roger Clark Reply

    Perhaps if all residents withheld council tax payments the Greens might sort out this matter urgently.

  4. Robert Reply

    I agree with Linda above. Overt point scoring rather than any attempt to discuss the complex issues.

    Labour were leading the council when many of the problems first arose. If the negotiator was so good in 2019, why are we back to square one two years later?

    Workers don’t go on strike willingly but when they do it isn’t absolute proof of how bad things are. One of the main factors on why workers vote to go on strike is in their belief they can win the strike (understandably). The 100% vote was because the refuge collectors know they can kick up a stink literally and get noticed. Other workers don’t have that industrial power.

    Care workers earn less, are equally as valuable, and also have terrible working conditions. They are not on an all out strike. It doesn’t mean they are any less deserving than refuge collectors. But all the attention is on refuge collectors.

    If the council buys new trucks that don’t break down, so that the drivers health and wellbeing is respected, that will mean cuts elsewhere, harming the health and wellbeing of people who are also suffering, often people with disabilities who are effectively trapped in their homes.

    Council tax is a regressive tax and the council can’t legally raise council tax above a certain amount. The Tory government has cut huge amounts of money it grants to local councils. That is the principle reason for these problems. If Labour was an effective opposition it would be winning the arguments in parliament. It isn’t.

    Of course Labour can argue, that there is only so much power in opposition. Fair enough. But the same can be said for a party leading a council administration as a minority.

    A victorious strike against a council IS a zero-sum game. The strikers victory will be a loss for other people, also in need.

    The Greens are not a majority on the council. The council has been split three ways for years. It can only really work if two parties work together. Labour and Greens agreed to do that in 2019 because their manifestos were so similar but then Labour abandoned their manifesto and decided to go back to point scoring.

  5. Rachel D Reply

    Labour Party members including Russell Moyles was out on the picket line inflaming tensions. The Labour Party receives giant donations from the GMB and the Labour Party also are in a power sharing deal with the Greens. It looks like they are just as responsible as the Greens for this mess. We need a real change in this City.

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