Bin workers and parks staff across three south London boroughs are set to strike, the action likely to affect Halloween and Bonfire Night celebrations according to the GMB union.
The two-week industrial action by refuse workers in Sutton and Kingston is due to begin on October 23, and will see GMB members join their colleagues employed by Idverde in their own pay dispute in Merton and Sutton’s parks departments.
The workers, while employed by different contractors, are linked via the South London Waste Partnership, which brings together the waste and environmental departments across Kingston, Merton, Sutton and Croydon.
There is no strike action planned in Croydon at present, according to the GMB.
Although many staff perform similar tasks and hours for Veolia across the SLWP, workers are unhappy that they are paid less than others in the sector. There have even been pay discrepancies between Veolia staff working in different boroughs within the SLWP.
Union members at Veolia in Sutton “are particularly angry that their union of choice was not consulted during recent wage negotiations”, the GMB said.
It is 12 months since the South London Waste Partnership decided to dump its contract with rubbish contractors Veolia.
The decision was reached following “significant and ongoing concerns” with Veolia’s performance, which saw Croydon, Merton and Sutton each issue the contractor with a Service Improvement Notice in early 2022.
Veolia was awarded an eight-year bins contract across the SLWP boroughs in 2017. The contract was worth “over £209million”, according to Veolia. The messy relationship is due to wind down finally in 2025.
According to the GMB’s Alex Etches, “The beleaguered partnership, which was originally billed as a cost-saving measure, has been dropped by the councils.
“It is now clear that the SLWP deal was nothing more than racket to offer rock bottom wages to the workers and sky-high profits to the companies on the contract.
“The councils involved have continued to hand huge sums of taxpayer money over to these profiteers while our members, their constituents, struggle to make ends meet.
“Strike action will see waste pile high in south London as residents’ bins will go uncollected, streets will remain unswept and parks shut, which will be particularly noticeable around Halloween and Bonfire Night.”
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