GMB bin strike: Union seek clarification on 'confusing' statement on Wealden Council website

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The council’s website seems to be suggesting that negotiations are underway and that talks are being held, which is simply not the case, says union

GMB union are demanding that Wealden Council clarify the confusing updates on the waste collection and street cleansing industrial action page on their website. 

The webpage contains information as provided to them by their private contractor Biffa, and includes the company’s commitment to resolving the dispute, despite them not making themselves available for talks. 

GMB have issued a second further notice of industrial action to extend the dispute to Saturday 11 June, should Biffa not agree to come to the table and start meaningful negotiations. 

The union is clear that no talks have currently been offered by Biffa, nor is there any communication other than emails repeating the same offer that has been rejected 3 times by GMB members. 

Mark Turner, GMB B50 Branch Secretary said: “Reading Biffa’s apparent commitment to resolving this dispute would be heartening if it wasn’t frankly simply imaginary.  

“We have to date had to present more or less the same deal to our members 3 times and each time it was overwhelmingly rejected. 

“The offer in question is partly based on increasing bonus payments that can be stopped or reduced at any time at the whim of local management, so isn’t worth a penny to our members.   

“Instead, management should be looking to negotiate an increase to the hourly rate above that already tabled and we might just get to a point where GMB can consider suspending or even ending the dispute and Wealden’s normal professional service can be resumed.   

“That’s not in our hands right now - and Biffa’s silence is deafening - so the strike will continue.” 

Gary Palmer, GMB Regional Organiser said: “Reading Wealden Council's inaccurate updates is at times very entertaining. 

“The site seems to be suggesting that negotiations are underway and that talks are being held, which is simply not the case. 

“I’m informed that we’re talking to Biffa when we aren’t, and without meaningful talks, this dispute is not going to get ended. 

“Local management have told staff that their East Sussex Joint Waste Partnership contract is one the most profitable that they operate, only to then inform those same staff when they seek a more substantive pay uplift that a further increase is unaffordable. 

“This is not only disrespectful, it is wholly symptomatic of the smoke-and-mirrors approach that big businesses like Biffa employ to exploit low paid workforces. 

“So, for clarity, GMB are ready to sit and negotiate as we always have been, but it can’t just be a one-way discussion and telling us before we’ve even sat down that there is no more money quite simply will not see their staff back at work.  

“Perhaps Wealden Council should consider sitting in on these meetings themselves or asking ACAS to chair pay discussions. 

“It’s a serious offer and it might just be the catalyst to allowing meaningful negotiations and a settlement along with press updates that everyone can find informative and accurate.” 


Contact: Mark Turner 07860787973 or Gary Palmer 07552165950