by Berkay Kartav, London Socialist Party
On 12 July, over 100 bin drivers and loaders in Bexley started four weeks of strike action, over pay and attacks on working conditions.
Last summer, Bexley bin workers were on indefinite strike for more than six weeks, fighting against the outsourcing giant Serco. But Serco was replaced by another private company, Countrystyle Recycling, which initially was forced to make a better pay offer.
However, one year on, the company has offered workers a below-inflation pay rise with strings attached.
The company wants to scrap the ‘job and finish’ provision in the contracts. This would mean that workers who finish their rounds are forced to stay at the depot and do extra work.
Unite the Union says that Countrystyle is trying to scrap this provision in order to punish workers for asking for a cost-of-living pay rise.
Workers were also appalled by the heavy-handed tactics of the police and the company, which put up barricades to stop workers from picketing outside the depot – a public building. But the intimidation tactics did not work and workers continued to picket by the roadside.
Public services should remain public services. The Tory-led Bexley council is once again dodging its responsibility.
Serco, Countrystyle and all other private companies only care about their profits and nothing else. All outsourced workers should be brought back in-house, along with inflation-proof pay rises and decent terms and conditions.
- Donations to the strike fund can be sent to: Unite LE/649, Branch No 60-83-01, Account No 20441911