Council needs to tell hugely profitable Suez to stop ‘childish games’ and negotiate 

Suez is deliberately prolonging the bin strike in South Gloucestershire by refusing to enter into renewed negotiations until 31 July, Unite, the UK’s leading union, said today (Tuesday). 

Around 150 Suez workers, who empty bins on behalf of South Gloucestershire council, began industrial action over pay in June. They are taking all out strike action every day until 3 September. 

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Unite has told Suez and the council repeatedly that it stands ready to enter negotiations at any time to bring this dispute to an end. Suez, however, seems keen to prolong disruption to residents for as long as possible because its leadership want to look strong. First it brought in agency staff to try and break the strike – a move that just protracted the situation. Now it is refusing to enter into talks until the end of the month. 

"Suez makes substantial profits from this contract, which is worth over £18 million a year. Why on earth isn’t the council telling the company to stop playing childish games and get back to talks? This isn’t about finances on the part of Suez, it’s about egos.”

According to its latest UK financial returns, Suez brought in UK profits of £80.8 million in 2021. Meanwhile, Suez’s South Gloucestershire bin loaders earn just £11.53 per hour and are the lowest paid in the region.

The impact from the strikes is set to worsen from 10 August, as Suez will not be able to continue using the agency staff it brought in to undermine the strike from that date. This is due to a High Court ruling earlier this month striking down government legislation allowing employers to use agencies to cover workers taking industrial action.  

Unite regional officer Ken Fish said: “Unite has left Suez without shadow of a doubt that from 10 August the company is barred from using agency staff during the strike and it must abide by the letter of the law. The only way to resolve this dispute is to put forward a deal our members can accept.”


For media enquires ONLY contact Unite senior communications officer Ryan Fletcher on 07849 090215.

Email: [email protected]

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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 Sharon Graham.