Jon Dale, Mansfield Socialist Party
Veolia waste disposal workers are into a third week of all-out strike. 50 North Nottinghamshire GMB members are demanding a cost-of-living pay rise.
On the Mansfield picking belt they are exposed to dirty and hazardous rubbish for the minimum wage. Drivers only got a 3% rise this year – not even the extra £500 one-off payment given to managers and office staff.
Veolia put up a security fence to make it harder for pickets to speak to drivers. The fence blocks a zebra crossing but the company seems willing to take a fine for obstruction. However, management are quick to phone the police if pickets hold up a lorry.
Agency workers have been brought in to undermine the strike. One driver, unfamiliar with the route, got stuck under a low railway bridge this week!
The £850 million private finance (PFI) waste disposal contract was given to Veolia in 2006 by the Labour county council. Courts ruled that the contract’s profit margin should not be disclosed, so local residents and the workers can’t find out how much they are contributing towards Veolia’s highly paid executives and big shareholders.
Local Labour district councils should stop using Veolia sites while the strike continues. PFI should be abolished and the sites taken over by the county council, with good wages and working conditions.