GMB refusal to pause strike action 'unfair to residents' say Councils

A refusal by GMB leadership to pause its bin strike while talks are underway to seek a resolution was today described as 'hugely disappointing and unfair on residents and businesses'.

In a statement Adur & Worthing Councils said it had held encouraging talks yesterday (Thursday) with the recognised union Unison and the GMB to find a way forward to resolve the dispute.

In order to create a breathing space so all sides could work towards a deal the Councils had asked the GMB to pause its strike and allow residents and commercial customers to have their refuse collected. Yesterday afternoon the GMB signalled it would not do this, effectively leaving the strike open ended.

The talks ended yesterday morning with agreement that UNISON, the GMB and Councils would work as speedily as possible towards a recognition deal that would allow both unions to negotiate on pay and conditions in the waste, refuse and recycling service.

Officers of the Councils immediately began to draft the agreement that is required under industrial relations laws for this process to begin.

A spokesman for Adur & Worthing Councils, said:

"It is hugely disappointing and unfair on residents that the GMB is continuing with its belligerent attitude. Given that we have managed to get everyone concerned around a table to begin to thrash things out towards a joint recognition deal which paves the way for formal negotiations on pay and conditions it is hard to understand why.

“The Councils completely accept our workers have the right to be represented by the union of their choice and UNISON has in turn agreed to the joint deal. It appears beyond the GMB to make a single conciliatory move. It makes it very hard to continue in good faith and doubt whether the GMB is really interested in the welfare of our staff or more interested in a union land grab.

“They are now asking us to move forward with constructive talks while they are holding the refuse service to ransom. That is simply not the way to conduct industrial relations.

“It should also be pointed out that the GMB has still not told us exactly what it wants for its members two weeks after the strike began. Frankly we find that incredible.”

The statement added that Councils was asking the GMB to pause the strike and not end it so talks could proceed. This was a modest request, it said.

The Councils initiated a review into the whole service in October last year which involved talking to staff and UNISON, which represents staff across all Councils' services. This was two months before the GMB contacted Councils threatening industrial action in its first communique. The result of the review so far is that all staff had been given a pay rise in the first year of more than 6% on top of a national backdated pay award of 1.75%. The Councils' HGV drivers have been given pay rises of more than 12.7%. All of these proposed rises are permanent additions to salary scales and not one-offs

In total 65 members of staff have been moved up a pay grade and a further 40 who are required to drive HGVs regularly as part of their role will get a permanent annual £2,700 specialist skills supplement. Four more will get both the annual specialist skills supplement and be moved up a grade.

A deal on a joint recognition agreement would allow the GMB to join UNISON in the ongoing review of the service.

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