Posted: 09.05.21 at 09:18 by The Editor
AS the increasingly fractious and bitter pay and conditions battle between Thurrock Council and a section of its workforce continues rubbish is starting to build up across the borough and some local councillors are beginning to feel the brunt of public fury for a lack of progress.
Tomorrow (Monday, 10 May) the dispute between the council and members of the Unite union who work in the waste collection service steps up a notch as workers fully withdraw their labour. Up to now they have been working for the first three hours of the day. Unite says the increased action will last until at least 28 May unless the council changes its position.
Workplace legislation means that a full time withdrawal of labour stops the council bringing in private contractors because it cannot use contract workers to do the job of a striking employee but the council has responded by advertising for new staff!
Yesterday it produced advertisements on its jobs section for 'casual waste collection assistants' paid £10.62 an hour and 'casual reliable, qualified and self-motivated HGV drivers' to become round leaders who will be paid £13.34 an hour.
In the job description the council makes no mention of the fact its new recruits will be potential strike-busters, possibly asked to cross official union picket lines.
The industrial action has prompted the council to set up collection points across the borough where residents can take their own waste. That is not enough for two councillors, Orsett’s Sue Little and Barry Johnson are calling on the council to provide a local collection point in their area.
Cllr Little has now branded the dispute 'Bingate' and says she has no intention of carrying waste in her own vehicle.
In a social media post she says: "My fellow councillor Barry and I have both been working with the council regarding Bingate. I for one am not prepared to be going here, there and everywhere at my age trying to dump my overflowing waste.
"Therefore we are negotiating a site that would be more acceptable in distance and easier to access for the residents of the Orsett ward."
She then has a blast at the striking workers, saying: "Only the unions can call this strike off and get things back to normal but are refusing to do so."
Many residents are taking up the issue with local councillors though some are being given promises that are immediately broken.
Residents on a small private estate of mostly rented homes near Stanford-le-Hope which has a communal bin area now crammed and overflowing rubbish because there have been no collections of any kind for more than three weeks called on their local councillors to intervene this week and were promised an immediate collection, which several days later has still not happened despite the personal intervention of council leader Rob Gledhill.
He told the complainant: “I contacted the Director for Public Realm immediately who is checking as to why the properties have been missed and will attempt to get a bin crew their today to clear the rubbish. I have asked her to contact me of this will not happen today and will update you accordingly.
“I also spoke with Cllr Shane Hebb yesterday evening who I understand subsequently contacted you direct and that he will also be monitoring the situation going forward as well. If you could let Shane know if the bins are not cleared or if they are missed again so he can chase it immediately.”
They have still not been emptied.
That is a dialogue that appears to being repeated across the borough and in some other areas where there are communal bin sheds the property owners have sealed them off so residents have to dispose of their waste elsewhere under their own steam.
Generally residents are becoming increasingly angry and vocal about the strike. In a bid to stop that, the council has now banned comments on its Twitter notifications about the strike!
A large number of residents have called on the council to announce it will be offering a rebate on the element of council tax payments related to bon collections - but that has met with no response.
At the heart of the dispute are plans by the council to cut allowances and overtime payments to its workers across a wide range of services including waste collection, street cleaning, care homes staff and its own security teams – effectively must of its workers not with desk-bound jobs. You can read the council’s full proposals in an official report here..
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