Update: The bin strike has now been increased from two weeks to four weeks.
The GMB union has confirmed that the revised pay offer from Biffa has been rejected by their members in Wealden and strike action will now begin on Bank Holiday Monday.
The industrial action, which affects workers employed by Biffa based at Uckfield and Hailsham, was originally due to start yesterday (25th April) but was suspended for one week while the union consulted their members on an improved offer from the company.
Biffa carry out household waste and recycling collections and street cleansing services for Wealden District Council.
The Union has announced that the offer was rejected by a margin of 93 to 7 per cent, on a turnout of 97 per cent.
Gary Palmer, GMB Regional Organiser said:
It’s clear that Biffa and our members value their contribution to the refuse and cleansing contract very differently in the Wealden district area.
The letter sent by the employer to staff really sealed the decision to go out on strike, as members were angered not just by what they consider a poor offer but by the lack of engagement and negotiation with their chosen representatives from the GMB Union.
It was nothing more than a fait accompli.
The walk out starts on Bank Holiday Monday for two weeks – but could be subject to further strike notice if the stand-off continues.
We will of course meet with management to talk at any time, but let’s hope that if we do, it’s meaningful this time.Gary Palmer, GMB Regional Organiser
The refuse and recycling strike will commence on Monday 2nd May and last for at least two weeks.
Most of the refuse staff in the Wealden branch are thought to be members of a different trade union (Unison), so it is unsure how much disruption will be caused to kerbside collections. It is assumed that the “bring site” in the Croft Road car park, which is one of 40 recycling sites which is emptied by Biffa on behalf of Wealden District Council, would be affected by industrial action, but not the main recycling site on Farningham Road (which operated by Veolia on behalf of East Sussex County Council). Wealden District Council is the waste collection authority and East Sussex County Council is the waste disposal authority. Biffa also empty some litter bins in Crowborough (the ones without the Town Council logo) and all of the dog poo bins.
Advice from Wealden District Council
Wealden District Council have said that whilst Biffa continue to negotiate with the GMB union and the staff involved to reach a fair settlement, this action will inevitably impact on the waste collection and street cleansing services they are able to operate.
Council officers are continuing to work with Biffa’s management to reduce the impact on services.
Wealden District Council intend to publish daily updates on their website explaining which are not operating.
Click on the following link for the Council’s advice about bin collections published each day during the industrial action.
If you have a bin due to be emptied this Monday (2nd May), please place it out as normal. However, if it is not emptied, please bring it back in as we will not be able to return until at least the next scheduled collection day in two-weeks time.
The Council have produced a list of questions and answers to explain to residents what is happening and why, what the impact may be and, what you can do.
The Council apologise for any inconvenience that may be caused by this situation and they would like to thank our residents for their understanding during this time.
Biffa’s commercial waste service is not involved in the industrial action.
Article originally published on 26th April. Updated on 28th April with information from WDC regarding collection arrangements.