Bin strike looms over staff cuts

Over flowing refuse bins next to old post office in Eastbourne (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-171026-093102008
Over flowing refuse bins next to old post office in Eastbourne (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-171026-093102008

Refuse collectors and street cleaners in Eastbourne will consider a ballot for strike action after Easter if bosses do not address concerns.

Staff at the Kier waste depot in Courtlands Road say their numbers have been drastically cut and the amount of vehicles operating locally reduced.

They say they are concerned standards are rapidly falling and refuse collectors in particular are unable to complete rounds and there is now a backlog.

Union officials at the GMB say members at the depot have given them a list of grievances against Kier – including some staff being suspended and a pay rise that has not been delivered – and if the company does not seek to redress their concerns, they will hold a ballot for industrial action after the Easter break at the end of the month.

Declan MacIntyre at the GMB told the Herald, “If Kier management does nothing, the members want to go to ballot for industrial action. Staff numbers have been halved, vehicles moved about and no pay rise which was due last year. They are not happy.”

Waste collection and street cleaning is delivered in Eastbourne through a deal with Kier and the East Sussex Joint Waste Partnership, which includes Eastbourne, Hastings, Rother and Wealden councils.

But last year it was announced that through mutual agreement Kier and the partnership, the 10-year contract would come to an end early in 2019 in relation to its waste collection, recycling and beach cleansing services.

The split is being blamed on the decreasing price of recycling.

A spokesperson for the Joint Waste Management Scheme, which runs the scheme on behalf of local authorities, said the councils had not been advised there is any risk of strike action that would affect waste collections or street cleansing services.

The spokesperson said matters of grievances had only been raised with Kier management recently.

Yesterday (Thursday) as the Herald was going to press, Kier said it was unaware of any problems at the Eastbourne depot.

The joint waste contract was rolled out to residents in Eastbourne and Wealden in April 2013, followed by Hastings in July 2013 and Rother in April 2014 and covers nearly 200,000 households over a 550 square mile area.