Sussex

Brighton rubbish strike: Union plans more industrial action

  • 18 June 2013
  • From the section Sussex

Brighton and Hove's rubbish mountain is set to grow after union officials announced more strike dates in their dispute over refuse workers' pay.

The GMB union says more industrial action will begin on Monday because of a "lack of movement" by the city council during negotiations.

The current strike, which has left piles of uncollected rubbish all over Brighton's streets, ends on Thursday.

The council says it is trying to resolve the dispute.

The two sides are due to meet again later, and GMB branch secretary Mark Turner says the new action can be called off if there are genuine signs of progress.

'Pay cuts'

But he added: "We spent a whole day [on Monday] with the council coming up with proposals to try to resolve the situation, but their position never changed.

Image caption Brighton and Hove City Council and the GMB union have both both apologised for the build up of rubbish

"I've asked the council whether they have something new to put to us and they said yes. So we shall see."

GMB union members began a week-long strike last Friday in protest at changes to staff conditions which the union says could cost some of its staff up to £4,000 a year.

Penny Thompson, the council's chief executive, said: "I'm truly sorry we are in this situation.

"I would like to reassure residents we are doing all we can to swiftly find an agreed resolution."

Little respite

If Monday's action - involving drivers - goes ahead, there will be a three-day "window" in which staff will be available for work.

But if there is no breakthrough before then, only street cleaners who do not use vehicles will continue working - and the filthy piles on the streets of the city will continue to grow.

Asked whether the union had considered delaying the new action to enable some of the refuse backlog to be cleared and provide some respite for residents, Mr Turner said: "We are doing that for three days at the end of this week."

He added: "We accept and understand the frustration from the public, but the stumbling block is the authority."

The council has not yet commented on the new threat.

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