16 October 2021 Council and democracy

Industrial dispute update

Following an intensive day of negotiations between the council and GMB Friday 15 October, disappointingly there is still no agreement between the GMB and the council on the measures and actions needed to resolve the dispute and end the strike.

However, a further meeting will be taking place tomorrow (Sunday 17 October) at which both parties will once again focus on agreeing a formal resolution proposal.

The proposal includes a significant and generous pay offer from the council, benefiting some of the lowest paid staff across the whole council, as well as the Cityclean service.

Taking action to address health and safety concerns

The council has today sought two dispensations from the GMB to collect rubbish from bin storerooms in blocks of flats; and to collect side waste. 

A dispensation request is a legally permitted ask of a union to allow some striking staff to do work, which if not undertaken, presents a significant health and safety risk.  

The dispensation request is to allow some staff to work should strike action continue again on Thursday 21 October. 

A break in the strike will take place between Monday 18 and Wednesday 20 October. 

Waste removal contractors have also been appointed to start clearing side waste from the worst affected areas and from bin storerooms early on Sunday morning.

This is because of the council’s serious concerns around public health and safety and because of the fires which have been started in recent days at overflowing communal bins.

The very high level of rubbish mounting around communal bins is also blocking pavements and spilling into the road and in the view of the council’s Health & Safety Team this now a significant risk for drivers and all pavement users, but especially disabled people, people with prams and pushchairs and the elderly. Rubbish bags are also splitting and attracting vermin.

The contractors will use specialist equipment to clear away the large volume of refuse and then will work alongside Cityclean staff to help get the city clean as quick as possible.  

The council is lawfully able to hire a third-party contractor to deliver its services during industrial action.

“A serious offer for a serious situation”

A council spokesperson said: 

“This has been a lengthy and intensive negotiation process to get to this point.

“At a special meeting of the Policy & Resources Committee on Wednesday 13 October, councillors from all political groups in a formal resolution emphasised the need for council officers to obtain best value for taxpayers and address low pay.

“The agreement we’re trying to reach is a serious offer for a serious situation. None of us want to see the piles of rubbish mounting up and to see the city we all love and care about in such a sad situation, but it’s vitally important that the council’s negotiation team work through the financial and legal implications of any agreement.

“The council fully respects the decision made by some Cityclean staff to strike and we’re keen to address the issues that have been raised by staff, protect the health and safety of our residents and get the city clean as soon as possible. The use of contractors has only been taken to address the growing and serious health and safety issues.

“We hope that the GMB will continue the discussions so that we and they are able to agree a proposal which can then be taken to the council’s Policy & Resources committee for early next week.”