Refuse collectors for Thanet District Councils to strike for two weeks

The workers are due to strike from Tuesday 30th May in a dispute over pay and working conditions. Credit: ITV Meridian

Refuse collectors working for Thanet District Councils waste and recycling services will go on strike for two weeks.

The GMB members are due to strike from Tuesday 30th May in a dispute over pay and working conditions which they are calling "hard, dirty and largely unappreciated".

Gary Palmer GMB Regional Organiser said: "The strike notice covers an initial two weeks walk out, but there are always the possibility further dates are likely to be added until talks aimed at ending the dispute commence and meaningfully progress."

Frank Macklin GMB Regional Organiser said: "The council's priority of spending cash on a new hardstanding for the depots vehicles over staffs pay sort of sums up what our members are up against in a time of crisis around the cost of living.

"You can only push people so far and our members desire to get what they are long overdue, while hearing those at the top earning decent salary’s pontificate about pay restraints and budget restrictions have forced them up to and past a breaking point.

"On a positive of course, any walk out could be paused if we had agreement that dates for meaningful talks were in the diary and agreed.

"The GMB Union are ready, it appears ACAS would be ready, it's just Thanet Council and in particular Colin Carmichael who’s not interested yet, but he knows how to contact us if he changes his mind and where we will be from the 30th onwards."

The GMB members working for the district council are due to strike from Tuesday 30th May. Credit: ITV Meridian

Chief Executive of Thanet District Council, Colin Carmichael, said: "We are incredibly disappointed that the GMB union has confirmed that its members intend to go on strike. Thanet is one of the councils in Kent and the wider South East region that has been targeted by GMB action, which ultimately risks impacting critical public services.

"Despite ongoing attempts to meet, GMB is refusing to hold discussions with our other recognised trade union which is in breach of our collective bargaining agreement.

"There are 543 members of staff at the council. Of the 59 eligible GMB members, 34 (58%) voted, and of those, 30 (88%) voted for strike action.

"We have contingency plans in place and are doing everything we can to mitigate the impact on our residents.

"We are committed to providing our residents with essential services and our staff play a critical role in enabling us to do this. We recognise the need to support our staff and competitive pay is important for recruitment and retention.

"Some of our lowest paid workers will see rises of up to 11.56% to bring their pay in line with the market rate. We have already applied a market supplement to the salary of the majority of cleansing staff. The supplements are backdated to the beginning of April this year, and lift salaries to a level which is comparable with other organisations offering similar services.

"The statements made by GMB representatives don’t reflect the reality of our commitment to our staff. The grievances that have been raised by cleansing staff around pay and the working environment have already been addressed. GMB has consistently failed to attend meetings and there doesn’t appear to be a genuine desire to resolve this matter. Our door is always open for constructive conversation and we sincerely hope that a solution can be found without the inconvenience that a strike could bring to our residents."

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