Refuse workers at Brighton Council have announced more strikes in their fight against pay cuts.
Drivers will strike for five days from Monday 24. A five-day strike of all workers employed by the CityClean service came to an end on Thursday 20 June. A work-to-rule, which has been in effect since the end of a sit-down strike on Friday 10 May, will remain in place for all workers.
The strike has enjoyed a high level of support, with many residents attaching posters and messages of support to their bins. Strikers organised daily mass pickets of the main CityClean depot, as well as smaller presences at other sites around the city. A demonstration on Saturday 15 June saw hundreds of workers and supporters march through Brighton.
During the strike, the city’s Green Party-led council went back on a pledge not to use agency labour to drive litter collection vehicles. There has also been a spate of “community clean-up” initiatives, some undertaken by well-meaning residents who think they are assisting the strike. A statement from the workers’ GMB branch made it clear that street-side piles of rubbish are an unfortunate corollary of the strike, and that for residents to attempt to clear them up is not only dangerous (as they are untrained) but serves to undermine the strike.
Unfortunately, the previously supportive Green MP Caroline Lucas has been prominently involved with one such strikebreaking “clean-up”.
GMB union officials say the council has not been negotiating in good faith, and that the union will not continue talks unless the council improves its offer.
Anti-bullying strike off, for now
A planned strike against management bullying on 19 June at Bishop Challoner school in East London was postponed after the school management agreed to further talks.
However, many workers felt the management’s position — which agreed to look at some concerns around bullying of staff, but not the victimisation of an NUT rep — was not sufficient grounds for postponing the strike.
The ballot mandate has been extended for 28 days, and teachers will meet soon to discuss their next steps, including the possibility of reinstating the action.
“Boris Bike” workers to ballot
The workers who maintain the “Boris Bikes” scheme of municipal bicycles in London, sponsored by Barclays, will ballot for strikes in order to win a pay increase.
Workers are also seeking to reverse the imposition of shift change patterns, and bring an end to bullying and harassment from managers. There is also frustration at bosses’ refusal to reach a formal settlement on travelling time and travel allowances for staff.
The workers are employed by Serco, the services multinational which also operates the Docklands Light Railway, as well as running a number of government services including electronic tagging and detention centres.
RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said: “Staff running the London cycle hire scheme are facing a bullying management who are imposing outrageous changes to conditions of service while denying our members a fair pay increase for a massively increasing workload.”