Doncaster braced for Christmas bin strikes

Unite to ballot refuse worker members over strike action in bullying and harassment dispute

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Thousands of Doncaster residents could be affected by Christmas bin strikes in a dispute over bullying and harassment of workers by management.

The Doncaster refuse and recycling contract is currently operated by outsourcers Suez Recycling and Recovery UK Ltd.

The dispute is a result of Unite the union members reporting widespread bullying and harassment. This has included the suspension of Unite representative Damien Nota, who has suffered continual harassment and was suspended after managers furtively trawled through historical CCTV footage to attempt to build a case against him. Managers have taken a similar approach to other workers who have been dismissed.

In a consultative ballot Unite’s 100 plus members voted by 95 per cent in favour of taking industrial action. As a consequence, Unite has organised a full-scale industrial action ballot. The ballot will open on Tuesday 10 November and will close on Tuesday 24 November. If members support industrial action, strikes could begin next month.

Tensions on the contract have further arisen as the green waste collection service has been suspended due to the high number of Covid-19 cases. Some local Conservative councillors have argued that agency workers should be brought in to restore the service.

However, Unite believes that the health and safety issue of avoiding having four workers in each vehicle and therefore unable to socially distance needs to be properly resolved before the ‘green’ waste collection can be resolved.

Unite regional officer Shane Sweeting said: “Members are fed up by the bullying and harassment they are experiencing on a regular basis by the Suez management.

“In particular, members are appalled at the treatment of Unite representative Damien Nota, who has suffered constant harassment and has now been suspended on trumped up charges.

“Unite has tried to resolve these matters through negotiation but without success and, as a result, members believe they have no option but to ballot for industrial action.

“Local residents will be alarmed that there could be a Christmas bin strike, but this dispute is directly of Suez’s own making.

“Unite remains open and available for talks and if Suez is prepared to reinstate our representative and ensure that the bullying and harassment ends then this dispute can still be avoid.”

By Barckley Sumner

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