60,000 households affected by Sandwell bin strike as workers protest against 'culture of bullying'

Serco Sandwell refuse workers on strike at 5.30am this morning (Tuesday 31 August) Credit: GMB West Midlands

Serco Sandwell refuse workers have taken the first in a series of strike actions against what they claim is a 'failure' to resolve a culture of bullying and health and safety concerns.

GMB Union say a total of 60,000 households will be affected across the four days of strike action.

Serco is the waste management company used by Sandwell Council, which GMB Union says has an "unacceptable" management culture which council leadership has turned a "blind eye" to.

Strikes will also take place on Tuesday 7th, 14th and 21st September

Households in Great Barr will be the most affected by the series of Tuesday strikes.

The council has suspended garden waste collections to allow remaining staff to focus on domestic waste and recycling bins.

Justine Jones, GMB Regional Organiser said: "These are key workers who have done so much for all of us over the last eighteen months, but their rights and dignity at work have been trampled on by Serco management.

"We've tried to eradicate this unacceptable culture, but our members have been left with no other options but to strike. The blame lies squarely at the door of Serco and Sandwell Council leadership who would rather turn a blind eye to it."

"We will continue to have discussions with Serco to try and resolve these issues but unfortunately, their response has come too late to prevent industrial action from going ahead.

In response, Sandwell Councils says its focus is "to ensure that the disruption caused to bin collections is kept to a minimum."

"The council has agreed to suspend garden waste collections from Monday (30 August) to Friday (3 September) to allow the remaining staff to concentrate on the collection of domestic waste and recycling bins."

Iain Stockdale-Smith, Senior Contract Manager for Serco, said: “We have had many positive meetings with the GMB Union over the last few months and significant progress has been made on the issues raised.

"Although we are naturally disappointed to receive confirmation of planned industrial action on 31 August, we are pleased that this week’s meeting with the GMB Union, alongside mediator ACAS, has resulted in reconsideration of a full strike schedule.

“During official industrial action, the law prevents us from bringing in additional staff to replace those on strike, but we want to assure residents we will try to keep any disruption to a minimum and our teams will be working hard behind the scenes to organise the resources we have in the most effective way.”