Wealden bin dispute: Biffa turns down MP's offer to broker meeting
Biffa’s continued refusal to negotiate with GMB will see Wealden residents’ bin misery continue for the foreseeable future, says GMB
GMB union are extremely disappointed to hear that Biffa management have turned down the offer from Maria Caulfield MP to chair a meeting aimed at finding a solution to the ongoing refuse dispute in Wealden.
The offer was made by the MP for Lewes to chair a meeting either in Westminster or locally, but was rejected by Biffa MD Roger Edwards just under two weeks after ACAS led talks broke down, with Biffa placing a final offer on the table and walking away from any further discussions in the midst of negotiations.
Maria Caulfield’s own website states:
“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.”
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.”
Gary Palmer, GMB Regional Organiser said: “Trust between us is a real issue, so GMB either suggested or accepted options to take that out of the equation, in order that the substantive issue around low pay could be the focus for both sides.
“GMB suggested that Wealden Council might like to sit in on talks themselves, so they can stop just printing the disingenuous mistruths that Biffa have been pumping out, and do more for their own residents - an offer ignored to date.
“It was GMB who first floated the idea of ACAS being involved in meetings to both mediate between us and stop incorrect information being published - such things as having in writing and witnessed by ACAS that Biffa offered a 5% minimum increase next year Biffa now being wrongly publicise as GMB members having turned down 7% minimum.
“GMB were happy to have Maria Caulfield MP chair a further meeting simply because we believe that residents deserve both Biffa and GMB giving our full commitment to exploring all options to seeking a resolution.
“Clearly Biffa don’t feel the same and have made their agenda abundantly clear - by refusing to increase their offer, their aim is tied to corporate greed rather than looking after their own employees and getting residents’ bins emptied.
“Unfortunately therefore, GMB are only left with only one option and that’s to continue with the strike action past the current notice which was extended until 25 June.
“Further notices for action will be submitted up to 8 July and will go beyond that if Biffa continue to ignore all attempts by GMB to settle this dispute.”
Contact: Mark Turner 07860787973 or Gary Palmer 07552165950