Worthing bin strike could continue until late April after pay talks break down

Rubbish has been piling up in Worthing since the bin strike began. Credit: ITV News Meridian

People living in parts of Sussex face another month of bin strikes after talks between the council and unions ground to a halt.

Refuse workers who belong to the GMB Union told the council on Monday, March 28, they will continue to strike until Sunday, April 10. 

A plan for formal talks on Tuesday have broken down and the GMB Union has refused a request to pause the strike.

In a letter to Adur & Worthing Councils on Monday night, GMB official Gary Palmer also suggested it could be extended to Saturday, April 23.

  • Gary Palmer, GMB Union, says workers were left with no other option but to strike

Gary Palmer said: "It's an unfortunate effect that the residents of Adur & Worthing are going to be affected but it's just not our fault.

"We tried for weeks and weeks beforehand to sit down with the council and suggest that with the unhappy workforce they need to get this resolved, they didn't"

"Ultimately, our members were left with the only option they could do, which is to strike and to try and force the council to the table to discuss it.

"At the moment that's still not being successful and the rubbish is continuing to pile up."

  • Resident Vicki Steggell says the situation is "awful"

Vicki Steggell, Resident, said: "I've got arthritis so I can't get up the tip. My hallway is absolutely overflowing with bin bags.

"I can't stick them in my garden because we've got a fox problem, so if I put them out the foxes just tear into it.

"So my house isn't particularly smelling nice at the minute.

"It's just awful and it's not just me it's my neighbours, they've got the same problem, they can't get up the tip."

One resident has been forced to keep her rubbish inside her house as she can't get to the tip. Credit: ITV News Meridian

A council spokesman previously said a good pay deal had been negotiated with the Unison union on behalf of its members, but Unison has now complained to the Trade Unions Congress, asking it to intervene over the way the GMB has acted.

Unison says it can now not sit down formally with the GMB and the councils, resulting in the postponement of talks scheduled for Tuesday.

A spokesman for the councils said: "We have no choice but to suspend formal talks in the light of this.

"This means our residents continue to suffer the consequences of the strike action. 

"The TUC guidelines are clear when there is a dispute between two unions and that is that industrial action should be suspended and a return to work instigated.

"It should not be forgotten that talks with Unison have resulted in pay awards for waste service staff that were above most neighbouring councils' deals, including one which the GMB agreed after taking strike action.

"The residents of Adur and Worthing do not deserve to be caught up in this."

The council has increased the opening hours at tips in Worthing, Shoreham and Littlehampton, to allow more residents to drop off their waste and recycling.