'Positive dialogue' brings fresh hope the end is in sight for South Tyneside bin strikes

Bin workers first raised a grievance with the council in June last year over claims of bullying and mismanagement. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees News

There is hope that a dispute between refuse workers and South Tyneside Council could soon be over.

The fifth wave of strikes began on Tuesday 20 February, affecting thousands of households in the borough.

Bin workers first raised a grievance with the council in June last year over claims of bullying and mismanagement.

An independent investigation was launched, but the findings are yet to be published, so the dispute has continued.

Gregg Easteal has been finding out how the bin strikes have been affecting people on South Tyneside.

There are around 72,000 households waiting on bin collections on South Tyneside, meaning people have had to take their own rubbish to the local recycling centre.

One visitor said: "I'm fed up with it because I'm having to come and bring my own rubbish. Really we should be getting a reduction in the council tax for it.

"I sympathise with people, you know, if the working conditions aren't very good for them, so I understand. But I definitely would like to see it over."

"We don't know the full story do we," said another "so we've got to do what we've got to do."

The strike has meant black bin bags piling up across the borough.

Resident Chris Anderson told ITV Tyne Tees: "For about two or three months now, we've been making trips, to the local tip.

"We've got two bins, we fill that up the maximum we can. We daren't leave anything out in case the cats get into it and make a mess, so we've had to leave them [bags of rubbish] in the house in the back of the kitchen.

"We've got children within the house and our grandchildren, and it's not really good for them, you know, for health reasons."

Around 72,000 households are thought to have been affected by the strikes. Credit: ITV News Tyne Tees

There are however some signs that a breakthrough could be on the way. Unions hinted today (Tuesday 20 February) the talks with South Tyneside Council had been moving in the right direction.

Mark Wilson from the union GMB said: "None of our members want to be out on strike. They didn't want to be the first time and they don't want to be this time.

"There's been positive dialogue with the council over the last few weeks, which is the first time that's happened since the dispute began. We think if we continue that dialogue that may lead us to eventually resolving this dispute."

This was mirrored by a joined statement from South Tyneside Council and the unions GMB and Unite. It said: "All parties have committed to work hard rebuild, and strengthen relationships and improve practices and hope to reach a resolution in the near future."

Since the strike action began South Tyneside Council has increased slots available at the Recycling Village on Middlefields Industrial Estate.

It added: "We know that this is an extremely challenging time for everyone and we are doing everything we can to minimise the impact of the strikes.

An agreement is unlikely to come however during the current round of strike action which means bin lorries will remain stationary for another four days.

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