Brighton's City Clean refuse, recycling, commercial waste and com-bin drivers to be balloted for strike action

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The overwhelming GMB consultative ballot result from HGV drivers within the city’s waste management Hollingbury depot could see industrial action in September, says GMB Southern Region.

GMB union HGV members at Brighton and Hove, have voted to undertake an industrial action ballot over unfair and discriminatory treatment of drivers by council management. The independent Civica run ballot which would be the last stage legally required before angry drivers could take action has come about through unilateral daily changes and removal of drivers from long standing rounds without process, at the whim of uninformed management. 


The constant one-sided and unagreed imposition of driver removals, variation of duties, crew changes and planning for the collection of dropped work is having a huge and on-going detrimental effect on drivers’ health and well-being within the city’s depot, and our members clear consultative ballot outcome is a result of that frustration and welfare concern. 


GMB ballot result was: 

  • On a 100% return of 53 drivers balloted. 
  • 98.11% voted to take action 
  • 1.88% voted not to take action 

GMB will now provide all the legally required notices around industrial ballot process to the Council in carrying out the last stages, which if the result supports could see a late summer disruption to both the city’s residential refuse and recycling and commercial waste and com-bin services throughout Brighton and Hove area. 


Mark Turner, GMB B50 Branch secretary, says:  


‘GMB members have throughout the pandemic tried to maintain the best service they could, despite severe Covid staff shortages and working with a dilapidated and archaic fleet of unsuitable vehicles leaving its mark on the staff who have tried to cope with the fall out and continue delivering day after day. 


Breakdowns and vehicle fires are commonplace despite the best efforts of the maintenance team.  At the depot a large amount of the fleet is just so old and worn out that keeping them on the road for any length of time is becoming simply impossible.  That in turn as staff return from Covid related issues and annual leave leads to frustrations for staff trying to keep on top of an already struggling workload.  


Rounds have become disjointed during the pandemic and have fallen so far behind that the experienced loading teams capable of turning things around are finding their drivers removed and replaced with operators with little knowledge of particular rounds and all at the whim of management without following the due processes put in place by the council in the first place, to manage the very service they then disrupt’. 



Gary Palmer, GMB Regional Organiser, said: 


‘Next steps are that we will now need to contact the Chief Executive at the council Geoff Raw and provide all the necessary information and notifications required by law over the coming week, but a late summer of discontent could be on the cards if members vote to strike, and discussions fail. 


Hopefully the Déjà vu I’m sure the city as well as ourselves is feeling also includes a solution which prevents the need to take strike action, but my concern is that the antiquated fleet issues are matched by outdated management unilateral approach methods which our members will simply and rightfully no longer stand for. 


Our members health and wellbeing is our number one concern at this point, and the council must get on board with that or we are going to enter a dispute which this city could do without right now if they can’t manage to treat GMB members and their employees with a bit more dignity, respect and appreciation for all they do, day in day out, under difficult conditions’. 


For further comment contact:  

Mark Turner on 07860787973 or Gary Palmer on 07552165950.