GMB warns Waltham Forest bin strike moving closer

Trade union GMB has warned that a potential bin strike in Waltham Forest has moved closer after refuse workers voted that they were ready to take industrial action.

Bins on streetWorkers employed by Urbaser, the commercial services company contracted with the London Borough of Waltham Forest, decided that they were ready for industrial action as a result of pay, with 94 per cent voting in favour for the move.

Although not a formal strike ballot, the GMB announced that this may follow. Currently, it is calling on Urbaser to put forward a ‘realistic pay offer’ as well as a company sick pay.

As it stands, workers, whose job exposes them to contagious diseases and injuries, are offered statutory sick pay of £99 per week if they are hurt at work. Urbaser have offered a three per cent pay increase for next year and deny any company sick pay scheme.

Complications have begun to arise in other areas of the country, as a result of low pay and strike action. Recently, Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council made the decision to use agency workers when refuse workers are on strike – a choice that British and Irish trade union, Unite, is set to challenge.

Similarly, GMB expects strike action to begin in Ealing, with the Borough’s workers, employed by trading company Greener Ealing (GEL) Ltd, set for a consultative ballot on strike action.

Staff at GEL are disappointed with the two per cent pay offer from their employer, an offer that GMB says only ‘amounts to a massive real terms pay cut.’

Commenting on the situation in Waltham Forest, Michael Dooley, GMB London Organiser, said: “GMB members are angry and feel let down by the company. We do not know what Urbaser is thinking in offering three per cent as a pay increase next year and denying a company sick pay scheme.

“It feels like they are provoking conflict. members of both GMB and Unite are not in any position to accept a pay deal that is so one-sided towards an employer. GMB and Unite members will now meet at depots in Waltham Forest to discuss the next steps. After this ballot result, the next step could mean a formal strike ballot of Waltham Forest refuse workers.”

Cllr Clyde Loakes, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Climate and Air Quality, added: “Waltham Forest Council and its contractors, including Urbaser, are London Living wage employers. We recognise that many people are concerned about the rising cost of living. We are working hard to ensure that anyone employed by the Council or its contractors receives a fair wage, and at the same time safeguard tax-payers’ money to fund essential services that the community increasingly relies upon.

“Talks are ongoing between Urbaser and the union representatives. The Council has not received any additional Government funding to cope with the cost-of-living crisis that our staff and our contractors are facing.”