'Shoulder to shoulder'

Refuse collection workers show solidarity with shop steward suspended by Coventry council

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Dozens of Unite activists, representing thousands of refuse workers from across the country, stood shoulder-to-shoulder with shop steward, Peter Randle in Birmingham today (March 15). He has been outrageously suspended by Coventry council on bogus charges while his members have been in dispute.

The Unite activists are attending a “Combine” meeting in Birmingham today (March 15_ to join forces and plan coordinated action to fight for jobs, pay and conditions in the waste disposal sector.

94% of the HGV drivers employed by Coventry council have voted to renew the mandate for industrial action. All out strike action will recommence on Monday, March 28.

The atrocious treatment of Unite members by Coventry council and other employers in waste disposal is proof enough of the need for a joined-up plan to take on bad bosses. Coventry council and its leader George Duggins stand accused of “rank incompetence” for needlessly escalating the bin dispute in Coventry by victimising Peter for carrying out his trade union duties.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “We need a coordinated approach to address the cost-of-living crisis gripping workers. That’s why Unite’s refuse-worker representatives from across the country are joining forces to fight for better jobs, pay and conditions.

“The outrageous treatment of Unite members by Coventry council is proof enough that we need a joined-up plan to take on bad bosses,” she added.

“Unite will be unwavering in its support for shop stewards like Peter Randle. The leader of Coventry council and his councillors are victimising our shop steward, squandering millions and refusing to attend a single meeting with Unite. The council is failing residents and the workers. It’s time for council leader George Duggins to do the right thing and pay workers the rate for the job.”

Unite national lead officer Onay Kasab added, “In a show of solidarity and strength, Unite reps are standing shoulder-to-shoulder with our Unite shop steward at Coventry council.

“Local government pay has fallen far behind the true cost of living. Privatised workers’ pay and conditions are often poor. We intend to unite privatised and directly employed waste service workers into one campaign. We will no longer allow employers or government to play off privatised worker against public service worker.

“Today, our members in Coventry are the inspiration for workers across the country to unite and fight back.”

By Ciaran Naidoo

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