Brighton seeks ‘urgent’ deal on refuse strikes

Brighton and Hove city council is to “urgently seek” agreement with trade union GMB following failed talks earlier in the week.

Rubbish has been piling up over the city (Photo: @Twohungrymen, twitter)

Failed negotiations earlier this week have resulted in the continuation of a strike causing mounds of rubbish across the city (see letsrecycle.com story).

At an urgent policy and resources meeting today (14 October), the council resolved that the chief executive as head of paid service will “urgently seek agreement” with the GMB, with the objective of “getting best value for council taxpayers and addressing low pay”.

Tensions were high at the meeting, with conservative councillor Joe Miller accusing the GMB of “holding a gun” to be councils head, stating “we cannot negotiate with terrorists”.

Gary Palmer GMB regional organiser has since called on Mr Miller to apologise for his comments.

Strike

The strike, undertaken by HGV crews in Brighton’s in-house waste service Cityclean, began on the 5 October and is currently set to continue until the 17 October.

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

GMB claimed that the council imposed “unilateral daily changes” on workers and removed drivers from long standing rounds “without process, by management whim”. GMB also raised issues on the pay for all Cityclean staff.

However, Brighton and Hove city council have said that high levels of staff illness, self-isolation and the national HGV driver shortage have meant it has at times asked staff to work “flexibly”, which has meant moving drivers or operatives to another view or collection round.

Earlier this week, an offer put forward by the council, which related to issues surrounding pay, is the second one that has been rejected by the trade union.

The council claimed that the GMB left the meeting prior to hearing the full details of the significant offer.

‘Disappointing’

Following the meeting, Gary Palmer GMB Regional Organiser said: “I left the picket line today telling our members, fingers crossed for a deal colleagues, I’m going back in the morning with a clear get stuffed two finger message instead for the workforce.”

The strike is set to continue until 17 October

“It so disappointing as a meeting held last week had left us with the impression that we had made good progress in moving towards a resolution and halting strike action, but now, we’ve seen a clear about turn and retraction of certain positional assurances by the council’s team.

“How on earth did they think that they could dress up today’s meeting as anything other than a slap in the face for our members? We are of course ready to talk but the council are clearly not yet adversely worried about the state of the city, when they are we’ll be here waiting.”

It’s not the first time Brighton council and unions have clashed over refuse in the city.

Cityclean staff have previously gone on strike over “anti-union behaviour” by the council, with long-standing issues around pay.

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