Unite, the UK’s largest union, has warned that it will leave ‘no stone unturned’ if Doncaster refuse contractor Suez presses ahead with breaking the law during forthcoming strike action.
Unite has received evidence that Suez is actively recruiting agency workers to try to break the strike. The recruitment of agency workers to break or undermine strike action is strictly illegal and is a criminal offence.
The advert circulated by Aim Recruit Ltd (see below), which already supplies agency workers to Suez, states: “This work is to cover industrial action and the workers will need to cross a picket line”.
Other agencies identified to be recruiting for refuse workers on the contract include Logical Personal Solutions and Ideal Recruit.
Unite is writing to the government’s Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate, which is responsible for ensuring that the rules on agency workers are upheld, warning that Suez and the agencies concerned are prepared to act illegally. Unite will also write directly to the company and the agencies warning them that they will be engaging in illegal activity. The union will also consider what other legal action it can take in support of its members.
Unite regional officer, Shane Sweeting, said: “Suez’s actions are disgraceful and the company will be acting illegally if it recruits agency labour to undermine a strike. It is simply incredible that Suez is more interested in recruiting agency workers to try to undermine the dispute rather than entering into negotiations with Unite.
“Unite will leave no stone unturned be it legal, political or industrial in ensuring that Suez is not allowed to break the law”.
The first strike is scheduled to begin on Wednesday 23 August until Sunday 27 August. A further period of strike action will then occur from Saturday 2 September finishing on Wednesday 6 September.
The initial dispute concerns pay. Suez has offered workers a two per cent increase but this is conditional on the removal of guaranteed overtime, which will in reality mean that workers will have their pay frozen.
The Suez dispute has further deepened as the company has also announced that it is looking to effectively halve the 250 strong workforce by October and is intent on making over 100 workers redundant. Unite is currently preparing to launch a separate industrial action ballot over the job cuts.
As a result of the job cuts the company is proposing to reduce refuse collections from a five day a week service to four days. The current medical waste removal service will be cancelled; the green waste collection will change from a year round service to operating only for nine months and the company will no longer undertake the licensed removal of asbestos.
Unite met with the Doncaster mayor’s office this week to seek the council’s support in resolving the dispute. The union is seeking, as a minimum, the council’s support to ensure that if there are job losses there will be no compulsory redundancies. The council’s deputy mayor Cllr Glyn Jones has promised to raise the issue of the recruitment of agency workers to undermine the strike with Suez.
Shane Sweeting, added: “If Suez gets its way Doncaster will become permanently dirty. There will be simply not enough staff to keep the town clean.
“It is imperative that the council and the local politicians put pressure on Suez to enter into sensible negotiations and not press ahead with slashing the service.”
For more information please contact Unite communications officer Barckley Sumner on 020 3371 2067 or 07802 329235.
Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.