Planned strikes by refuse workers employed by Suez Recycling and Recovery Ltd, on the outsourced Doncaster council contract, have been suspended after the company acted on the concerns of Unite.
The workforce, who are members of Unite, had recorded a 94 per cent yes vote in response to systematic bullying of the workforce and the dismissal of Unite lead rep Damien Nota, while other workers had also been suspended. Much of the bullying and harassment was connected to the company’s CCTV system and involved managers trawling through historic footage.
The initial strike action was due to take place on Wednesday, December 15, with three further strikes dates planned over the festive period. These strikes have now been called off and the dispute suspended on the agreement of both Unite and Suez.
Following the announcement of strike actions, fresh negotiations were held. The company then agreed to reinstate Damien Nota without sanction, and that all other suspensions would be lifted. A new CCTV and monitoring policy will be introduced and adequate training provided.
Unite will also be able to appoint additional union reps and more facility time will be granted to avoid similar problems developing in the future. Both sides have agreed that the industrial action will be suspended until March to allow for a new CCTV and monitoring policy to be jointly agreed and implemented.
Suez has further agreed to conduct an internal investigation into the conduct of its managers on the contract.
Unite regional officer Shane Sweeting said, “This is a tremendous victory by workers who stood together and by their solidarity have ended a huge workplace injustice.
“Unite made it clear that workers were striking as a last resort and that it was fully prepared to enter into negotiations to resolve the dispute,” he added. “Once Suez recognised the strength of feeling among members and understood the level of disruption that bin strikes would cause in Doncaster it entered into negotiations and a highly satisfactory deal has been hammered out.
“While strikes have been suspended, If Suez does not honour the commitments it has made strikes could still occur this spring,” Sweeting continued.
“Hopefully this agreement and the development of the new policy can be the catalyst for rebuilding industrial relations at Suez and similar problems can be avoided in future.”
By Barckley Sumner