People warned of rubbish collection disruption as union begins two week strike

Rubbish piled high in Adur and Worthing following strike action there Credit:

Residents in a part of East Sussex are being warned to expect disruption to their rubbish collections as a two week strike by refuse workers.

The industrial action from Bank Holiday Monday is being led by the GMB union in a dispute over pay with the latest offer put forward to members, contracted to work for Biffa, rejected.

Wealden is the latest part of the south of England affected by strike action following a six week walkout in Adur and Worthing.

Previous strike action has also taken place over the last twelve months in Brighton and Hove and Eastbourne.

Union warns strike could be extended if stand-off continues

Gary Palmer, GMB Regional Organiser said:

"It's clear that Biffa and our members value their contribution to the refuse and cleansing contract very differently in the Wealden district area.

"The letter sent by the employer to staff really sealed the decision to go out on strike, as members were angered not just by what they consider a poor offer but by the lack of engagement and negotiation with their chosen representatives from the GMB Union. 

"The walk out starts on Bank Holiday Monday for two weeks - but could be subject to further strike notice if the stand-off continues.

"We will of course meet with management to talk at any time, but let's hope that if we do, it's meaningful this time."

Rubbish in the streets of Brighton before strike action ended there Credit: Brighton & Hove City Council

A Biffa spokesperson said: "We are working hard to minimise disruption following the decision by some of our colleagues to go on strike. We will continue to try and resolve the dispute as soon as we possibly can."

Two week Wealden bin strike: what you need to know:

  • People who live in the area are being told to put their bin out as normal but expect for it not to be collected.

  • Biffa say they are working to minimise any disruption to services, but residents are being warned that collection and street cleansing services will be affected. 

  • If sufficient resources are available, green waste collections will be maintained but the priority will be to rubbish collections.

  • Legal restrictions on what can be done to cover the work of people who are on strike prevent Biffa from using agency staff to cover their work.

  • Despite the strike action, the four recycling centres in Wealden, which are operated by East Sussex County Council will continue to accept waste.

Council say Biffa is working to reduce the impact on services

Wealden District council said,

"Whilst Biffa continue to negotiate with the GMB union and the staff involved to reach a fair settlement, this action will inevitably impact on the waste collection and street cleansing services they are able to operate.

"Council officers are continuing to work with Biffa’s management to reduce the impact on services.

"From day one of the strike on Monday 2nd May, we intend to publish daily updates on our website explaining which services are operating and which are unfortunately not operating."