Bin strike shows no sign of ending as binmen vow to continue action
10th June 2022

Rubbish strike shows no sign of ending as binmen vow to continue industrial action and 65,000 residents’ bins overflow

  • GMB union has said the ongoing strike will ‘bring misery for foreseeable future’ 
  • Tory MP Maria Caulfield offered to mediate a meeting to help end the dispute
  • However, Ms Caulfield’s offer was rejected by the employers of striking workers 

A rubbish strike has shown no signs of ending as binmen have vowed to continue the industrial action – as 65,000 Wealden residents’ bins remain overflowing. 

The GMB union has said the ongoing strike will ‘bring misery for foreseeable future’ and is now forecast until June 25 after Biffa refused to meet with the union representing refuse workers.  

Tory MP Maria Caulfield, who represents the Lewes constituency, offered to impartially mediate a meeting to help end the dispute – either in Westminster or locally – which began a month ago.  

However, her offer was rejected by the employers of striking workers.  

Biffa workers who are members of the Unison union accepted the deal, which Wealden District Council claimed was a 17 per cent increase for this year and a minimum of seven per cent next year, a cash lump sum, and pay parity with the other two councils in the East Sussex contract.

Meanwhile, 98 per cent of GMB members who rejected the offer claimed there were ‘red lines’ they wouldn’t cross, reports Sussex Live.

A rubbish strike has shown no signs of ending as binmen have vowed to continue the industrial action – as 65,000 Wealden residents’ bins remain overflowing

The GMB union has said the ongoing strike will ‘bring misery for foreseeable future’ and is now forecast until June 25 after Biffa refused to meet with the union representing refuse workers

Some 65,000 residents in Uckfield, Polegate and Crowborough remain affected – as rubbish continues to pile high in many areas. Pictured: GMB Union bin strikes 

She said ‘I am extremely disappointed that Biffa do not want to return to the negotiating table with myself as an impartial chair to facilitate a meeting. I have offered to clear my diary and host a meeting in Westminster or in the constituency on any day this week, and despite the GMB accepting this, Biffa do not want to continue to negotiate.

‘Residents in Wealden District, including those in Polegate, East Dean, Alfriston and the surrounding villages that I represent, are fed up of this bin strike and want both sides to find a solution as soon as possible. For the good of local people I have offered to step in and to mediate in the dispute, and I would urge Biffa to continue discussions aimed at ending the dispute.

‘I would like to thank Wealden District Council for doing what they can to support residents during this time, including setting up waste drop off points and making sure that those elderly and vulnerable people who have assisted waste collection are being supported.

‘My offer to Biffa and the GMB is still open should they want help to resolve the bin strike.’

Mark Turner, GMB B50 Branch Secretary said: ‘This refusal by Biffa to meet to negotiate with GMB leaves our members little choice but to carry on with the dispute’

It comes as some 65,000 residents in Uckfield, Polegate and Crowborough remain affected – as rubbish continues to pile high in many areas.

Mark Turner, GMB B50 Branch Secretary said: ‘This refusal by Biffa to meet to negotiate with GMB leaves our members little choice but to carry on with the dispute. Not only does not taking up Maria Caulfield’s offer not make any sense at all, but together with their closing down the ACAS led talks, Biffa are obviously insisting that they have made a final offer says clearly to everyone that they don’t care about the residents or their employees if it means our profit margins are going to be affected.’

‘We have seen Biffa repeat the same offer countless times, occasionally they insert and change the words ‘bonus’ for one off payments, or ‘consolidated’ and even ‘minimal increase’, but the actual headline figure for our members remains the same. Our members are continuing to say that this simply isn’t enough.’

In a statement, Wealden District Council said: ‘The strike by members of the GMB union working for Biffa in Wealden continues today and at this stage industrial action is forecast until 25th June 2022.

‘Although negotiations have taken place between both parties including a meeting chaired by an ACAS representative, at present there is an impasse.

In a statement, Wealden District Council said: ‘The strike by members of the GMB union working for Biffa in Wealden continues today and at this stage industrial action is forecast until 25th June 2022’

‘Our waste and street cleansing contractor, Biffa have proposed a two-year pay deal including significantly above inflation increases (17 per cent for this year and a minimum of seven per cent next year, a cash lump sum, and pay parity with the other two councils in the East Sussex contract.) By comparison, the pay award for nurses for 2022/23 is expected to be up to three per cent and State pensions are to increase by 3.1 per cent for 2022.

‘This offer provides an annual pay level for loader operatives at over £23,000. This sum is several thousand pounds above the National Minimum Wage and the higher National Living Wage. The driver roles are paid at a higher rate.

‘Although this offer achieves pay parity across our Joint Contract with Hastings and Rother Councils and achieves higher levels of pay than that offered by our neighbouring Councils at Eastbourne/Lewes, the GMB members have rejected it.

‘We believe it is a generous offer. In the meantime, we are working closely with Biffa to maintain services to residents across the District.’

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