Brighton and Hove refuse workers vote to strike

Refuse workers look set to strike this summer in Brighton and Hove
Refuse workers look set to strike this summer in Brighton and Hove

Strikes this summer look highly likely after 87 per cent of members from the GMB Southern union voted to take action.

The ballot saw a 75,2 per cent turnout, with 87.2 per cent of members working for Brighton & Hove City Council’s refuse, recycling and street cleansing Cityclean services voting to take part in industrial action.

When asked if they were prepared to take action short of strike action this percentage rose to 90.5 per cent.

READ MORE: Summer bin strikes look increasingly likely in union row with council

According to the union, the action comes in response to ‘ongoing poor industrial relations brought about by rogue managerial anti trade union behaviour’.

However, in a statement, the GMB Southern union said: “Even with this strong ballot result we will approach this week’s ACAS conciliation hopeful of finding a solution so we can stand down the threat of industrial action.”

BHCC Chief Exec Geoff Raw is due to meet GMB together with his senior management team and ACAS on Thursday (June 20). The meeting is in hope that actual action can still be avoided through undertaking a successful conciliation process having received formal notice of the result of the ERS formal ballot.

Mark Turner, GMB B50 Branch Secretary said: “GMB members have clearly chosen to support their unfairly targeted Workplace Reps and Union, recognising that this sort of attack if left unchallenged will impact upon their employment rights to be represented by the Rep of their choice and that their GMB Rep is then not targeted by rogue managers unfairly for carrying out his union role.

“The Chief Exec is totally responsible for this mess, and by ignoring numerous opportunities to distance himself from some of his manager’s action at the depot.

“Members have been left with no option, because of his obvious support of anti trade union actions, but to escalate matters to the point of taking action.”

Gary Palmer, GMB Regional Organiser said: “It’s up to BHCC and the Chief Exec now to de-escalate the situation, but saying that he could have done exactly that months ago instead of burying his head in the sand and simply crossing his fingers that the ballot result would fall in his favour.

“Even with this strong ballot result we will approach this week’s ACAS conciliation hopeful of finding a solution so we can stand down the threat of industrial action.

“We will need to either have found a solution or be positive that the work in progress is going to lead to an outcome we can all sign up to, if industrial action is to be avoided. So let’s hope they are now taking this seriously.”

In response to the comments made by the union, city council leader councillor Nancy Platts said: “For the council to deliver the best services for our residents, businesses and visitors, working closely with trades unions is crucial and is always our aim.

“We take very seriously the allegations of anti-trade union activity of some managers and at a meeting taking place this Thursday with GMB and the arbitration service ACAS, we’re keen to hear exactly what these allegations are so we can address them.

“We know there are problems in our relationship with GMB and we’re determined to resolve this through the ACAS discussions. We already have two further meetings with ACAS and GMB following the meeting on Thursday to ensure this happens.”