Bin lorry drivers have voted to accept an offer from Brighton and Hove City Council at a meeting this morning (Monday 18 October).
The drivers, members of the GMB union, also voted to suspend strike action as they wait to learn whether councillors will sign off the deal.
A special meeting of the council’s Policy and Resources Committee is due to take place at 4pm tomorrow (Tuesday 19 October).
If the committee, made up of 10 senior councillors, also supports the settlement, the strike will be suspended while the details of the deal are finalised.
The drivers returned to work this morning at Cityclean, the council’s rubbish and recycling service, which is based in Hollingdean.
The GMB said: “The disruption has, we know, been difficult for the residents of Brighton and Hove and, to be clear, it was always our last resort.
“But the council had for too long either ignored or delayed both the issues and in getting around the table to resolve matters, with a strike meant to focus their attention.
“The work to clear the city has already begun with crews back out working as they normally would.
“The dispute and two weeks of strike action came about over issues with the city’s Green council over their refusal to intervene and settle ongoing disagreements around unilateral imposed daily changes and removal of drivers from longstanding rounds without fair process, by local management whim.
“A deal, though, with the council around adherence to policies and procedures by local management and grading increases was today accepted by the GMB union’s 54 HGV members working within refuse, recycling, com-bins and commercial departments within Cityclean.”
The GMB said that it now hoped that “working practices and relationships (would) improve dramatically and quickly”.
The union said: “The financial elements of the deal, which had been placed originally on the table by the council, have also been settled with an offer seeing a regrading of HGV (heavy goods vehicle) drivers and others within the department.”
It called this “a move which will lead to staff seeing a pay increase, not just for the drivers but for all the paid employees within Cityclean service”.
And, the union added, this was “an act which will see some of the lowest-paid working in the refuse, recycling and streets departments also getting a pay rise”.
GMB branch secretary Mark Turner said: “Our members have today taken the step to end this dispute and strike by accepting a commitment in writing from the council.
“If the councillors now vote in a similar positive fashion this week, the dispute is over, so it’s in their hands now.
“It always has been about respect for the difficult job our members do in the city and often the difficult circumstances and poor equipment they often must put up with to carry out that role.
“The fact that we’ve also seen through a pay increase is a significant recognition of their hard work and skills.
“Our members felt that it was only right to vote to accept the council’s proposal and suspend strike action with immediate effect if the council do their part and sign it off at their Policy and Resources Committee meeting this week.”
A strike was meant to focus the council’s attention, Mr Turner said, adding: “Thankfully, that eventually happened and we have delivered exactly what our members mandated us to do.”
GMB regional organiser Gary Palmer said: “It’s certainly a case of ‘well done GMB members at Cityclean’ in standing up collectively to demand and win both respect and fair treatment by their own management team.
“The occasional negative comments about their taking industrial action have been far outweighed by the amazing support picketers have received over the 13 days of strike action in both words and actions by those visiting the picket and strikers at the Hollingdean depot.
“Once pay became an issue in the negotiations, after being mentioned by the council, HGV drivers were always clear that any regrading exercise and subsequent pay increase on the table always had to be inclusive of all Cityclean workers and not just themselves.
“The consequences of that are that once that piece of work is done, it could in effect see a beneficial ripple out throughout all Brighton and Hove City Council’s lower grades and result in many more of the councils’ lower-paid workers in council areas such as schools and care gaining well deserved pay increases across the board.”
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