Greens and Labour welcome end to bin strike but differences emerge

Posted On 20 Oct 2021 at 3:40 pm

The Greens and Labour have welcomed the end of the bin strike although differences between the two parties have emerged.

Labour said: “The council as a whole needs to reflect and learn serious lessons from this debacle.”

A deal with the GMB union was agreed by councillors yesterday (Tuesday 19 October) at a special meeting of Brighton and Hove City Council’s Policy and Resources Committee.

The deal included a pay rise for the striking bin lorry drivers and other low-paid staff at Cityclean, the council’s rubbish and recycling service, even though pay was not the reason for the strike.

Others in low-paid jobs, such as some school staff, could also benefit from the £2.5 million-a-year deal, councillors were told.

Green councillors issued a statement last night. It said: “The GMB, council officials and councillors have met day and night, including across the weekend, to find a resolution to this dispute that we’re pleased has been agreed today.

“After what we know has been a difficult period, with real impact on residents, we’re also keen to achieve an improved waste and recycling service for all in the city.

“It’s clear to us that workers at Cityclean have raised-long term issues that have affected their trust.

“We urge all councillors to work together to address this as it’s clear many issues stretch back over a number of years.

“The GMB have described the deal as one that ‘ticks every box plus more’ for their members and we’re hopeful that the proposals are a positive way forward for industrial relations at Cityclean.

“Importantly, all sides have agreed proposals that seek not only to improve pay and conditions for Cityclean drivers but that also lift the wages of those staff across the council on the lowest pay grades.

“This is important particularly given the national context we find ourselves in. Wages have stagnated in this country for many years, with nothing done by national government to remedy this.

“We’re committed to supporting council staff. Yet with fewer and fewer resources provided to councils by central government and the impact of Brexit, job shortages and the pandemic, we’re clear that proper national funding is urgently needed to ensure councils can address the crisis hitting essential public services and workers.”

Rubbish being cleared in Clarendon Villas in Hove yesterday

Labour councillors said that they were pleased that a deal had been struck to end the strike “despite the Green administration’s bungled approach to the dispute up to now”.

The party said: “At this afternoon’s special meeting of the council’s Policy and Resources Committee, Labour councillors scrutinised the deal and held the administration to account for their failure to resolve this dispute sooner.

“Residents have suffered with rubbish and recycling piling up in the streets for over two weeks.

“Labour are clear that the council as a whole needs to reflect and learn serious lessons from this debacle.

“When Labour left office, there was a clear plan in place to address the underlying issues at Cityclean and recruit a senior industrial relations officer. Those plans appear to have been abandoned.

“However, the Labour group did welcome the terms of the deal to finally resolve the dispute, celebrating a pay rise for some of the lowest-paid workers in the council, and for HGV drivers who are in short supply following Brexit.

“Labour emphasise that Cityclean workers are local residents who kept working during the pandemic, are out in all weathers doing a difficult and dirty job, and who deserve our respect and fair payment.”

Councillors Carmen Appich and John Allcock

Labour’s co-leaders of the opposition, Councillor Carmen Appich and Councillor John Allcock, said: “We’re pleased that the steer we gave the administration last week has led to a deal to end strike action.

“Residents have suffered unnecessarily for over two weeks now when this whole debacle could have been avoided.

“Labour had put in place plans to improve industrial relations that were not followed by the council and today we raised questions about the poor handling of the situation from the start. Serious lessons need to be learned.

“However, we really welcome today’s agreement which eradicates low pay at the council and gets our city cleaned up – and we are proud to have been part of the process of reaching that agreement.

“Pay will increase for the local key workers who are out to collect our bins in all weathers, as well as for HGV drivers, which will give the council a greater chance of retaining these essential workers who are in high demand and short supply following Brexit.”

  1. fed-up with brighton politics Reply

    Labour are just trying to seize the opportunity to present themselves as responsible and proactive, in readiness for the 2023 local elections, when they will probably get in again because of the Greens’ abject performance on many issues – not just bins. We’ve been here before, when the Greens were decimated after their last spell in ‘power’, but it seems that many voters have forgotten about just how bad they were. Labour has been bad as well and shot themselves in both feet with all the suspensions/resignations over anti-semitic tweets etc. I am certainly not advocating a move towards Tories, who have been pretty pathetic lately, but perhaps some competent Independents, and even Lib Dems, might like to make an effort and mount a challenge to this never-ending saga of incompetent Greens/Labour.

    Those of us who did not vote Green or Labour (and there were plenty) don’t deserve this failure by both of them.

  2. Robert Reply

    Yes there “plenty” of you. About 1/3 of the city who voted Conservative.

    Many of us are well aware that successive councils have had to manage council services while making massive cuts because Government funding to councils has been decimated, while council tax is the most regressive form of tax, hitting the poorest harder.

    Other councils up and down the country, including Conservative, are facing bankruptcy. So these are the conditions councils are facing.

    The ageing refuge trucks are a result of those massive cuts. If you want better services and newer refuge trucks, tell the Conservatives you want proper Government funding for local councils. Or ask the Government to change the local tax from a regressive to progressive tax, like land tax, that takes tax from those who can most afford it, not for those who can least afford it.

    Brexit and Covid are the biggest factors in shortage of staff, care workers, NHS workers and especially HGV drivers. The Greens are not to blame for staff shortages. The blame for staff shortages lay squarely with the Conservative Government, its version of Brexit and its handling of the pandemic.

    I will continue to vote Green because I believe the Greens are doing a good job under the circumstances beyond their control. The Greens best represent my views, as did the 2019 local manifesto, which the Greens are trying to implement under the cuts. Neither Labour or the Tories represent me, so I won’t be voting for them.

    We live in a democracy and especially following the tragic death of David Amess, and Jo Cox before, perhaps rather than incorrectly thinking others ignorant or stupid, perhaps you can respect we all have different priorities and will vote accordingly.

    I could be wrong but I don’t expect voting will change much in Brighton in 2023, even despite the strike. I expect it to broadly stay 1/3 Conservatives, 1/3 Greens and 1/3 Labour.

    • Chaz. Reply

      So many socialist pushbacks from you Robert, surprise.
      Whether Green or Red the answers and questions are the same.

      When will your Green friends stop wasting money on vanity projects?
      When will your Green friends become Green?
      Even Friends of the Earth have called your team out.
      Sorry but your rose tinted spectacles are becoming even Greener.

      How come the binmen around the rest of East and West Sussex counties have not been on strike?
      Is B&H the only council that bought inferior equipment and never replaced?
      Has B&H councils been paying their staff below minimum wage?
      How much has your Green council paid to settle the latest dispute and why is it a secret that the Greens will not reveal? It is after all our money yes?

      How come your alliance party Labour refused to support but abastained?
      So many questions for the Greens but basically we need adults in the council as we have had enough.

      It will be interesting to see how it all turns out.
      The Greens have been encouraging anyone in huge numbers from London and others as part of their sanctuary programme to beef their support up.

      If you lived in Brighton, you would know what a cesspit it has become this decade and there is no sign of the Greens doing anything about it, except blame everyone else for their own frailties. That says everything.

      It is a democracy, and you should welcome questions on your deity, the Greens.

  3. Sarah Reply

    Maybe councillors should spend a little more time at the waste depot & see for themselves what an unpleasant & badly managed place it is. Successive administrations have failed to take a closer look preferring to listen to senior officers who have a vested interest in not telling their political masters the truth. Remember the current CEO was the director in charge of Cityclean until a few years ago. Maybe ask him how often he visited the depot to see for himself & speak to the workers

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