Further Strike Action in South Tyneside Despite Positive Dialogue

Posted by: Kaye Russell on 04 March 2024 13:15

The GMB union has announced yet another round of strike action across South Tyneside.

No bins will be collected Tuesday 19 - Friday 22 March inclusive.

An independent investigation into a collective grievance submitted last year has now concluded. The confidential findings, which have been presented to all parties have not been challenged. The HR process in the respect of the collective grievance is therefore complete.

The announcement of further industrial action comes despite no evidence of bullying and harassment of the workforce by management. There are no reasonable grounds for industrial action. The workforce has made no requests for significant changes to terms and conditions, it is wishing to effect a change in management which is unsupported and unjustified having investigated workforce concerns.

Despite this, a number of recommendations were made to move things forward, including improving communication, ensuring a continued safe and efficient work environment, continued investment in the Middlefields depot - to ensure the best possible service for residents.

The Council has already made significant progress in implementing these recommendations and has started the process of rebuilding trust with the workforce.

Engagement between the workforce, officers and the Council's Leadership over recent weeks has been well received. The Council has made additional commitments to the workforce and is delivering on those. The Council is listening to the workforce and addressing concerns but is confused by this action as it directly contradicts the assurances given by GMB union over recent weeks.

The Council has repeatedly called for the union to come to the table and enter into ACAS conciliation. The union have repeatedly refused to take this positive action to bring an end to the ongoing dispute. The Council remains fully committed to conciliation using ACAS as an independent conciliatory body in order to get the service back delivering for residents.

Cllr Joanne Bell, Lead Member for Governance, Finance and Corporate Services, said: "It is extremely disappointing that despite all of the hard work going on behind the scenes the GMB union plans to press ahead with further industrial action.

"This action is totally unjustified. We have been in positive dialogue for weeks and there is no evidence of bullying or harassment. While we have made significant progress on a series of recommendations, we have been clear that the required changes will not happen overnight and there is still much to do.

Councillor Tracey Dixon, Leader of South Tyneside Council, said: "I'd like to apologise to residents and businesses who have been affected for months now.

"We need the Unions to come to the table and talk this through for the sake of the people of South Tyneside."

In addition to ongoing dialogue the Council has invited an independent Local Government Association/ Association for Public Service Excellence (LGA/ APSE) Peer Review team in to evaluate Waste Services. The peer review is not an inspection and is a constructive exercise intended to complement the ongoing dialogue with both GMB and Unite Trade Unions and the workforce and provide an understanding for all parties on how other councils operate and share best practice.

This supports the Council's stated commitment to move things forward in a positive manner.

The Peer Review Team's final report will support ongoing dialogue with the Unions. It is anticipated that the full report will be published in the coming months.

Normal bin collection patterns resumed across the Borough at the end of February, with grey household and blue recycling bins being collected, depending on the area. Residents are advised to check the online bin collection calendar  for their scheduled collection day. Due to action short of strike, if bins are not collected on their scheduled day, then residents are asked to present their bin every day until it is collected (Tuesday to Friday).

Crews continue to take action which goes way beyond action short of strike. This action taken by crews is having a significant impact on collections day to day with rolling backlogs across the Borough.

Up to date advice and information can be found at www.southtyneside.gov.uk including a set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).


Last modified: 04 March 2024 15:28