Statement in Response to GMB over Industrial Action
GMB issued a press release on 9 November 2023 about planned industrial action taking place 14 - 17 November inclusive. South Tyneside Council would like to clarify a number of matters raised.
Firstly, we know our people are our strongest asset, and our waste services operatives are valued members of the Council's workforce serving on the frontline, supporting 72,000 households, and emptying 6.5 million bins every year.
The planned industrial action does not relate to disciplinary action. As is stated in the GMB ballot, union members "wish to affect a change in Operational Management".
The claims made by the GMB in their press release dated 9 November 2023 are not ones that we recognise as a Council. GMB suggest 80% of the workforce have received a formal warning recently. In 2023 the current figure is that four members from a team of 63 have received a formal warning amounting to 6.3%.
All matters raised by waste operatives are being considered by the independent investigator. The outcome of the investigation is expected shortly. The Council would dispute the claims relating to vulnerable or elderly residents. No disciplinary action has been taken in relation to this, as has been suggested by the GMB.
As referenced above, there is an ongoing independent investigation aligned to the Council's resolving issues at work policy and we await its conclusion in the coming weeks. GMB and Unite Unions have chosen not to wait for the outcome of this independent investigation before pressing ahead with industrial action.
The Council remains committed to resolving matters through ongoing dialogue and is looking ahead to planned ACAS conciliation as agreed with the Trade Unions.
It is disappointing that industrial action is still going ahead before that conciliation and the independent investigation had been allowed to reach a conclusion.
As the investigation and conciliation is ongoing it would be inappropriate to comment further.