Threat of bin strikes remain as union rejects Veolia offer

The threat of a bin-strike remains after members of the GMB union rejected a new offer from waste management company Veolia in a ballot earlier this week.

Kingston refuse workers had called for strikes as part of a coordinated collective action with others under the South London Waste Partnership in Sutton and Merton over issues of low pay compared to others in the sector, recruitment, and staff retention.

While Veolia’s new offer aimed to address these issues it was seen as lackluster by strikers. Stuart Fegan, Senior Organiser of GMB Southern said: “If this deal was accepted, they would still be significantly behind what other local authorities are paying.”

Members had suspended strike actions on Sunday October 22 after the new offer by the company however, union members voted down the offer by a clear majority.

The Union will meet with Veolia next week to negotiate further, however the GMB’s strike mandate for action is valid for six months.

Fegan said: “Our view is that it’s down for the members to decide. We will back it either way.”

The union warned that a possible two-week strike could have significant consequences in Kingston and Surbiton.

Alex Etches, Regional Organiser of GMB southern said: “Strike action will see waste pile high in South London as residents’ bins will go uncollected, streets will remain unswept and parks shut, which will be particularly noticeable around Halloween and Bonfire Night festivities.”

The local Kingston Labour Party has endorsed the strikes and written an open letter calling for Kingston Council to act on their contract with Veolia and enforce fines on the company. They also called for an end to outsourcing and for closer cooperation with the GMB.

Kezia Coleman, the Chair of the Kingston Labour Party, said: “[Veolia] need to recognise that change is really needed to enable workers to deliver the services that residents should expect, and those they employ deserve a fair pay.”

The Kingston Courier has reached out to Kingston Council and Veolia for comment.

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Political Editor and Reporter for the Kingston Courier

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