Waste collection and street cleansing industrial action update
Tuesday 31st May 2022 – Waste collection and street cleansing industrial action update
We sincerely regret that the strike by members of the GMB union working for Biffa in Wealden continues today.
Our waste contractor, Biffa, have informed us that the GMB union have notified them of their intention to extend the strike action up to the 25th June 2022. This is disappointing bearing in mind Biffa reiterate they remain committed to resolving this dispute and will continue to engage with representatives of the GMB union to reach a fair settlement for their employees and the residents of Wealden.
The latest statement from Biffa is:
“We’re disappointed that the GMB has rejected our improved offer. We enhanced the offer with a proposal for a 2-year deal which included significantly above inflation increases (17% for this year and a minimum of 7% next year, a cash lump sum, and pay parity with the other two councils in the East Sussex contract.) The offer was made following a constructive day of negotiations facilitated by ACAS and unfortunately members have chosen to continue with strike action. We are working hard to minimise any disruption to service.”
The latest deal that has been rejected by the GMB union would see pay increase by up to 17% this year plus a £600.00 guaranteed bonus with a further increase of at least 7% next year with the guaranteed bonus to be permanently included as salary . This would see annual pay levels for loader operatives at over twenty three thousand pounds, this being several thousand pounds above that of the National Minimum Wage and the higher National Living Wage, with higher paid driver roles receiving equally generous increases. By comparison, the pay award for nurses for 2022/23 is expected to be up to 3% and State pensions are to increase by 3.1% for 2022.
We understand that local GMB representatives have been commenting making statements regarding Biffa not engaging with them in meaningful negotiations. Regrettably it is difficult to do so when those same representatives make statements such as “we mustn’t start negotiating until the rubbish piles up in the streets.” Biffa have made several improved offers to end this strike, all of which have been rejected by the GMB and their members. In contrast there has been little movement on the pay demands from the GMB.
We continue to believe our residents deserve to know this information to take an informed view on the merits of the industrial action being taken and, whether the strike is being extended unnecessarily by the GMB union.
In the meantime, recognising waste collections have been severely disrupted for our residents for more than four weeks, Biffa have been working to put in place more temporary pop-up waste sites in local towns and villages for residents to bring their household rubbish to for disposal without having to travel to the County Council’s local amenity tips. With non-recyclable general household waste being the priority these sites will not be available to dispose of recycling and garden waste, at least in the first instance.
We can confirm the next of these sites will operate in Alfriston today, Tuesday 31st May between 8am and 2pm.
A further site will operate tomorrow, Wednesday 1st June in Hailsham between 8am and 2pm.
Details of what waste can be taken to these sites, together with the locations, dates and opening times, will be published on our website.
More will be made available in towns and villages across the southern half of Wealden where very limited refuse collections have been taking place.
Again we regret there will be no recycling or garden waste collections today.
Where residents are using their local County Council amenity tip, we kindly ask people to be kind and patient with each other and the site staff. This comes following recent reports of verbal abuse of site staff. We ask residents to appreciate these staff are not employed by Biffa and are not involved in the strike in any way. They are simply working as hard as possible to ensure residents have a facility to dispose of their waste during this strike and beyond.
Please continue to check our daily updates for the latest information on collection services.
Once again, we apologise for any inconvenience that may be caused by this situation and thank you for your cooperation and understanding during this time.
The following are services that will be operating in full or in part today:
- Rubbish collections – Approximately half of the rounds scheduled to empty rubbish bins today are working. Please put your rubbish bin out if you are due a collection today. If it is not emptied please leave it in place for three working days as efforts are being made to catch up on missed rubbish collections. If its remains uncollected after this, please take it back in and use the link below to our questions and answers to find out what to do.
- Clinical waste and sharps box collections – operating as normal
- Bulky Waste Collections – operating as normal
- Bin deliveries and exchanges – operating as normal
- Street litter bins and dog waste bins – some disruption to services
The following are services that will not be operating today:
- Approximately half of the rubbish collections (see above)
- Garden Waste Collections
- Recycling Collections
We appreciate this is an inconvenience and concern to residents and we apologise for this situation while Biffa and the GMB union work to reach a fair settlement.