Bin strikes by Serco workers in the south London borough of Bexley could last until October without council intervention, Unite, the UK’s leading union, warned today (Monday 2 August). 

Bexley council has said it is willing to work with Unite and Serco to find a solution to end the strike. But Unite accused council leader Teresa O’Neill of ignoring requests to meet with the union’s representatives.

The strikes, involving 140 refuse workers, began on July 12 and the workers are now in their fourth week of strike action in a dispute over pay and the victimisation of workers.

The call for council intervention comes ahead of talks between Unite and Serco mediated by the conciliation service Acas later this week. 

Around 50 staff are owed substantial back pay, with some workers owed thousands of pounds because Serco has failed to pay workers according to stipulated pay scales. This has resulted in existing drivers being paid just £22,000 a year, while new recruits are paid £28,000 for the same roles. 

Workers are also angry as Serco has weaponised its drug and alcohol testing policy in order to victimise union members, while failing to provide any advice or support to workers who are experiencing problems with substance misuse. 

Unite regional officer Tabusam Ahmed said: “Our members do not want to strike and are well aware of the inconvenience caused to residents. Unfortunately, they have no choice because Serco has refused to put forward any proposals that could end this dispute. 

“Unless Bexley council intervenes, these strikes could last until October. The council has stated that it wants a solution to be found. But promises to meet with Unite so far have amounted to nothing but empty words. 

“Our members won’t give up until the pay and drug testing issues are addressed. They have done nothing wrong and it is time for Bexley council to make Serco face up to its responsibilities.”


Bexley’s bin strike extended as contractor Serco fails to negotiate

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Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.