‘Long hot stinking summer in Bexley’ as Serco bin strikes stretch into August
- Friday 23 July 2021
There will be a ‘long hot stinking summer in Bexley’ as new Serco bin strikes mean rubbish will remain uncollected into August, Unite, the UK’s leading union, said today.
Ongoing strike action
Around 140 workers, who are members of Unite, began striking over pay and other issues on 12 July, with the current round of strike action ending this Sunday (25 July).
Unite has announced that the strike will resume on Monday morning (26 July) and continue until Sunday 1 August, with more strikes dates set to be announced.
The workers will hold daily pickets outside the Thames Road refuse depot in Crayford (see notes to editors for details). Unite has previously called for an end to ‘heavy handed’ policing at the picket line.
The strikes will continue even though Bexley council has announced that Serco’s contract will not be renewed when it expires in October, with Countrystyle Recycling taking over instead.
The council has pledged that staff on the contract, who will all be transferred from Serco, will be paid at least the London living wage in the future.
Unite has consistently called for Serco to be removed from the contract and for staff, whose rate is £10.25 an hour compared to £13 an hour for workers in Greenwich to be paid properly.
The dispute, however, also centres on Serco’s refusal to pay around 50 staff back wages, with some workers owed thousands of pounds.
This is because the company has for half a decade failed to include refuse staff on a stipulated pay progression scale.
This had led to widespread pay disparities, such as long serving drivers being paid £22,000 a year even when new drivers are recruited on £28,000 a year.
In addition, Unite has accused Serco of victimising union members through the unfair policing of its substance misuse policy, while providing no help or advice for those who may need it.
Unite regional officer Ruth Hydon said: “Serco is determined by its actions to ensure there is a long hot stinking summer in Bexley.
“While it is was about time that Bexley Council got rid of poor performing Serco and our members can look forward to some improvements in their terms and conditions come October, several issues remain unresolved.
“Our members want an immediate end to pay disparities and many are owed tens of thousands in back pay. We will not let Serco or the council skirt round that fact, or its weaponisation of drug testing, until it can walk away from the contract in autumn.
“Bexley council need to get a handle on this and intervene, otherwise rubbish will continue to pile up on the borough’s streets.”
Notes to editors:
A 6am to 10am picket line will be held each weekday between 26 July and 1 August at Thames Road Refuse Depot, Crayford, DA1 5QJ.
Unite warns of ‘heavy handed’ policing at Bexley bin picket as council ditches Serco
During the coronavirus crisis Unite is working to keep workers and the public safe, to defend jobs and to protect incomes.
For media enquiries ONLY please contact Unite senior communications officer Barckley Sumner on 07802 329235 or 0203 371 2067.
Email: [email protected]
Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.