Bexley bin strikes extended

Council urged to intervene over attempts to scrap ‘job and finish’ provision

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Strikes at Bexley council refuse contractor Countrystyle Recycling have been extended until August 7, Unite said today (July 13).

More than 100 workers, responsible for loading and driving bin lorries, began two weeks of continuous strike action yesterday. Another two weeks of all out strikes will now begin on July 25.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “The biggest obstacle to resolving this dispute is the ending of the job and finish provision for Countrystyle’s workers. Working on bin rounds is dirty smelly heavy work done in all weathers.

“This industry standard provision, in place in Bexley for decades, makes the job bearable for staff. It is outrageous that Countrystyle is trying to scrap it. Ending it needs to come off the table or these strikes will continue with Unite’s full support.”

Countrystyle is attempting to change the job and finish clause in the workers contracts to ‘group task and finish’. In a statement it said that ‘crews will be asked to help each other out, by collecting additional bins that may have been missed by another grouped crew, for example, due to vehicle breakdown or staff illness’.

Unite said its members already do these things and in reality, the clause will be used to prevent staff from leaving the depot when their work is complete in order to penalise them. The union added that Countrystyle is trying to force through the changes to punish workers for asking for a cost of living pay rise.

Unite regional officer Tabusam Ahmed added, “Workers at the depot already help during absences, missed collections and breakdowns. The efficiency savings generated by formalising group and task finish will be absolutely minimal – this is about punishing workers because they asked for a cost of living pay rise.

“If the financial pressure from running the service has caused such an over-reaction from Countrystyle, then the company and Bexley council need to review their contract to allow operations to run properly.”

By Ryan Fletcher

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