A three-week bin strike in Waverley has begun this morning (Thursday) after members of the GMB union working in the borough rejected a new pay deal from waste contractor Biffa.
A GMB spokesman told the Herald on Thursday: “The members rejected the pay deal from Biffa this morning and are now on strike.”
It means unless there is a surprise breakthrough in talks, Biffa workers will not be collecting rubbish until November 23, risking scenes reminiscent of the bin strikes in Brighton & Hove last year when huge piles of rubbish mounted up on roadsides (pictured).
Street cleaning services will also be affected by the Waverley strike, which affects all Waverley Borough Council areas.
More news is expected to follow later today.
Biffa collection staff working in Waverley first voted for industrial action last week in a dispute over wages.
Mediator ACAS brokered talks between Biffa officials and union representatives last Thursday, seeking to avoid a walkout voted for by waste collection staff in Waverley borough.
And Biffa said it was “hopeful” the three-week bin strike in Waverley could be avoided after “constructive” negotiations with the GMB trade union.
The waste contractor subsequently made an “above-inflation” pay offer on Tuesday, prompting the GMB to delay a ballot on the new offer 24 hours until today.
The pay offer was, however, rejected by GMB members – effectively beginning the three-week strike.
A GMB spokesman told the Herald yesterday: “We didn’t actually receive the written offer from Biffa until late yesterday afternoon, which didn’t leave us enough time to organise the ballot this morning in a way that would have made it clear and transparent.
“We are therefore going to be balloting our members first thing tomorrow, before the usual shift start time. The members will then either go out to work as usual or form a picket line, depending on the ballot result.”
It comes after GMB regional officer Paul Grafton said last week that striking “served no-one”, with workers losing pay, possible fines for Biffa, and uncollected rubbish for residents and businesses.
But he added: “Once again, our members are being forced to take action to secure a pay rise that won’t leave them worse off than this time last year.
“If employers continue to offer below-inflation pay rises, then our members will be forced to take action to protect their position.”
The GMB spokesman added ahead of today’s new ballot: “GMB met with Biffa management, with ACAS, and negotiated a revised pay offer from the company.
“We will be putting this new pay deal to our members, and if the membership accept it, the strike action will not be going ahead.
“In the event that strike action does take place, we would suggest that any member of the public unhappy that the kerbside collections will not be happening should contact their local councillor and ask them to pass on their concerns to Biffa.
“All our members want is a pay offer that properly reflects the essential and very demanding job that they do every day, come rain or shine – let’s see if this latest one meets these criteria.”
A Biffa spokesperson said prior to the confirmation of strike action: “Following a constructive day of negotiations with ACAS and the trade union, we have improved an offer that was already significantly above inflation.
“We hope the offer is accepted so that strike action can be avoided.”