Brighton bin strike could end after deal struck

Trade union GMB and Brighton and Hove city council have agreed a deal following talks yesterday (17 October) which should see the city-wide bin strike end.

Trade union GMB and Brighton and Hove city council held decisive talks yesterday

The deal, which will include a pay rise for all the in-house Cityclean workforce and some other of the lowest paid staff across the council, will go before councillors for ratification tomorrow.

Cityclean HGV drivers had been on strike over issues relating to pay and working conditions since 5 October (see letsrecycle.com story).

A break in the strike was due to take place from today to 20 October.

Mark Turner, GMB branch secretary, told letsrecycle.com: “GMB members have today voted to accept a written commitment from the council to increase pay and end unilateral round changes.

“If councillors vote in a similar positive fashion this week, the dispute is over and GMB will immediately suspend 30 days of strike action due to commence on 21 October.

“This dispute has always been about respect for the difficult job our members do in the city and the difficult circumstances and poor equipment they’re often forced to put up with.

“We know the disruption has been difficult for the residents of Brighton and Hove and industrial action was always our last resort. But the council had ignored or delayed addressing our members concerns for too long.”

Strike

All household waste and recycling services were affected by the strike, and the council advised residents to visit household waste recycling centres (HWRCs) to dispose of uncollected rubbish.

The council also appointed waste removal contractors to start clearing side waste from the worst affected areas and bin storerooms on Sunday morning.

It said it was “lawfully able” to hire a third-party contractor to deliver its services during industrial action and that it had “serious concerns” around public health and safety.

The Cityclean workforce will resume work once the deal is formally voted through.

‘Positive talks’

On the deal, a council spokesperson told letsrecycle.com: “We had positive talks yesterday and thank GMB representatives for meeting on a Sunday.

We’re pleased that the formal resolution proposal has this morning been agreed by GMB members– Brighton and Hove city council

“We’re pleased that the formal resolution proposal has this morning been agreed by GMB members and it will now be put forward to the council’s policy and resources committee for ratification in the next few days.

“We apologise to residents, business and visitors to the city for the disruption during the last few weeks and thank you for your patience.”

‘Serious lessons’

Opposition Labour Party councillors welcomed the news that the strike could end but condemned the minority Green Party administration for how long it took to reach a deal.

In a statement, Cllr Carmen Appich and Cllr John Allcock, Labour’s co-leaders of the opposition, said: “It is disappointing that it has taken this long, and that Labour needed to step in to assist the administration in resolving the dispute. A special meeting of the council agreed with our suggestions last week and gave the council the steer it needed to resolve the dispute.

“We are truly sorry that the residents of our city have had to endure such a prolonged dispute that could and should have been settled earlier but for the approach taken by the Green administration. Serious lessons must be learned.”

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