Unite is preparing to ballot its refuse collection workers in Slough for strike action after a senior steward was suspended and faces dismissal on ‘trumped up charges’ in a row over lunch breaks.
The Unite senior steward Peter Nolan at Slough council has been suspended from work on charges of undermining the refuse collection service. Mr Nolan’s suspension concerned management putting pressure on the workforce not to return to the depot for their break and eat their lunch but to remain on the road. However workers have no access to washing facilities and would be forced to consume food in highly unsanitary conditions, with a high chance of contracting diseases.
A consultative ballot of Unite members employed on the refuse collection service, has already given their backing to Unite moving to a formal strike ballot if the council dismisses Mr Nolan.
Strike action could begin as early as late May or early June and any action would inevitably lead to resident’s bins being uncollected.
Mr Nolan’s hearing is on Tuesday, May 1 and if he is dismissed Unite will immediately move to ballot for strike action.
Unite regional officer Bob Middleton has repeatedly tried to meet with James Swindlehurst the Labour leader of the council, to resolve the dispute but he has refused to meet.
“Unite is not going to allow our steward to be dismissed on trumped up charges,” Middleton noted.
“Peter Nolan’s only crime is to stand up for his workforce, to ensure existing agreements are not undermined and that workers are not coerced into taking their breaks in dirty conditions which will make them ill.
“If our members take strike action this summer there is likely to be a stench in Slough entirely of the council’s own making,” he added. “Residents worried that their bins won’t be emptied should be angry with the council for creating this mess.
“I have tried to meet James Swindlehurst the leader of the council to resolve this dispute but he has refused to meet me. I am sure that the people of Slough would have expected stronger leadership from the council.
“There is still time to resolve this issue,” Middleton went on to say. “The council needs to simply drop the trumped up charges against our stewards and drop their plans to force our members to eat their lunch caked in the filth they collect on a daily basis.”