Impact of previous industrial action. Bexleyheath
Impact of previous industrial action. Bexleyheath

Bexley Labour Group has called on the Conservative council to get round the table with the Unite and Countrystyle and resolve the current proposed dispute that will lead to 14 days of strike action.

The Labour Group are concerned about the impact the strike will have on residents who already experienced months of problems with irregular collections of rubbish and recycling, for which a whole variety of reasons have been given. Residents are exasperated – a solution has not been forthcoming to a matter that that was highlighted many months prior. And now, residents again will see a further reduction of services that will have a long-term detrimental impact on services and recycling rates.

Labour councillors recognise that strike action is a last resort when employees feel that concerns of a hostile work environment have not been resolved. It is well known that the life expectancy of refuse workers is much lower than other industries due to the nature of the role, and it is therefore vital that they are provided with a pleasant work environment.

The Conservative administration have overseen since 2009 a cut of £2.4 million from the previous contract with Serco, which has had a detrimental impact on service provision and this cut has not been reversed. In the disputes of Summer 2021, it was extremely disappointing that there was a reluctance from the administration to get around the table with the contractor and unions and resolve the matter, which could have prevented the strike. Today, Labour have again called on the Conservative administration, to get Unite and Countrystyle to negotiate a resolution to genuine grievances and bring the necessary senior level expertise, including cabinet member and Leader of the Council, to support good relations with unions and workers.

Labour have engaged with the unions on the matter and are eager to find a resolution. Whilst the strike is due to commence on Tuesday, there is still time for a resolution to be found that will either prevent strike action altogether or reduce the period of strike.

Cllr Mabel Ogundayo said:

“I am calling on the Council leadership to step up and arrange meetings with all parties and find a resolution. Until all parties get around the table, the matter will remain ongoing and this may not be the last of the industrial action. Our residents expect and deserve better.”

Labour have written to the Leader of the Council, the Chief Executive and the Cabinet Member for Places requesting a meeting be facilitated as soon as possible in order to resolve the crisis. Labour are also available to assist where possible.

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