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Sheffield recycling centre strikers supported by 90% of public
Dozens of cars tail back up the tip-site lane onto the main road, there's an accident waiting to happen! This is the scene every morning at the recycling centres in Sheffield, not because of the strikes by the 40 GMB members but because the opening hours have been cut by the Labour council and private contractors Veolia and Sova - which is exactly what the strike is all about.
The Sova workers at the five Dump-It sites have now taken ten days of strike action, with another three days of strikes planned this week.
They are fighting job losses and cuts in hours and pay as a result of the reduced opening of the recycling centres, part of the council budget cuts.
90% of the public are supportive as GMB members work the queued up cars with a petition to the council and protest letters for drivers to sign.
The latest news, that the council are cutting bin collections to fortnightly from next month, has only further angered people. Everyone knows that these cuts will only lead to more fly-tipping.
Even the security guards are sympathetic, one says he was a 'flying picket' during the miners' strike and still a union man. They direct drivers to sign the union petition!
The next strike starts on Wednesday 13 June, when the Sova workers will lobby the council meeting. They will be demanding to know from the Labour councillors: Where are all the profits from recycling going? Into Veolia's back pockets due to the 30 year privatisation deal! And why won't they take the service back in-house? GMB in the city sponsored 14 of the Labour councillors, but not one has been down to the picket line!
Sheffield Socialist Party will present a petition opposed to all the cuts and calling for all waste management services to be brought back under the council.
The Green Party councillors have a motion only expressing disappointment at the cuts but at least it will get the issue discussed.
But this strike is not going to be won in the council chamber. It will require all-out strike action which most of the Sova workers realise but are worried about taking because of their financial hardship. One picket said that he thought it would only take two weeks of 'all out' to win.
Financial support is desperately needed so pickets were pleased to hear that part of the collection at the 9 June National Shop Stewards Network conference in London is being donated to them.
Sheffield Socialist Party members have visited the picket lines every strike day so far. Jim Rodgers, a GMB steward, spoke at last week's party branch meeting, and the last article in The Socialist has been well received - "That's miles better than what they put in the Star (local paper)" said one striker.
Please send messages of support and especially financial donations to: Peter Davies (Sova Strike Fund), GMB office, 188/190 Norfolk Street, Sheffield, S1 1SY. Please make cheques payable to GMB.
This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 11 June 2012 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.