Bin strike looms in Brighton and Hove as union votes in favour of industrial action

CityClean workers could go on strike in Brighton and Hove
CityClean workers could go on strike in Brighton and Hove

Members of the GMB union at CityClean have voted in favour of strike action in a dispute with Brighton and Hove City Council.

It comes as the GMB balloted its members over what it calls the Cityclean depot management’s 'anti-trade union behaviour'.

The union said 'the ball is firmly in the chief executive’s court', and urged him to get around the table with GMB and ACAS to avoid a strike.

The ballot saw 91.8 per cent of members who voted (90.6 per cent of members) support strike action.

Brighton and Hove City Council said 'there are no legitimate grounds for industrial action', but said it was working with the union 'on a daily basis'.

'This has to stop'

Mark Turner, branch secretary, said: "GMB has listened to its members on this matter. Their overwhelming support for their GMB reps, who through supporting members in the workplace, has placed themselves on some anti-trade union management's radar and are as a consequence suffering from being singled out in the workplace and subjected to stalking-like observations of their every move.

"This result shows that members are clear in saying that this has to stop and they, like their union, are looking towards those in charge of the service to respond to those wishes. If not, they’re unmistakably showing with this result that they are prepared to take affirmative action against the employer. After completing the legal requirements around industrial action and formal ballot process to do so then that’s what our members will do."

Gary Palmer, GMB regional organiser, said: "It will be interesting to see with the new council in place, if they instruct the chief executive, who of course works for the elected councillors and city to get off the fence and deal with the issue to avoid any problems for the street cleansing, refuge and recycling service over the coming months.

"The ball therefore is firmly in the chief executive’s court, he can now bring us to the table to discuss this calmly with ACAS involvement or go through a prolonged industrial action dispute to find ourselves back around the table with ACAS to conciliate several months down the road."

‘A strike would benefit no-one’

A council spokesperson said: “We’re extremely disappointed at the result of the indicative ballot which we believe is unwarranted.

“There are no legitimate grounds for industrial action, as accusations by the GMB of management trying to undermine the union or remove it from the depot are entirely untrue. We are still working with the GMB and its members on a daily basis, and will continue to do so.

“With summer fast approaching when the city is extremely busy with millions of tourists, a strike would benefit no one and only do damage to the city and our businesses and residents.

“There is no intention to remove any union reps or prevent them from raising issues, or punish them for doing so.

“We also want to make clear that claims by the GMB that we hold ‘secret dossiers’ on employees is also an entirely false accusation. We have already reassured staff at the depot that we only retain factual information on employees, including address, emergency contacts, sickness absence etc, which is necessary, and what all sensible employers do.

“The only other information we keep on an individual is when someone has made a complaint against the council or has had a complaint made against them. Documentation such as emails and letters are kept as part of a disciplinary processes, which we must keep by law.

“We hold no secrets, and any council employee can ask for their full records at any time.

“Since a new assistant director started just over six months ago we are undertaking a complete review of Cityclean to ensure we’re providing the best and safest service for our residents and customers.

“This has uncovered a number of very serious issues that have required urgent action, and which are being dealt with. We are making great progress thanks to all the Cityclean staff."