Sheffield green workers’ unofficial walkout

Further action by Sheffield recycling workers

The recycling workers in Sheffield who had already taken six days of strike action, upped the ante on their uncharitable ‘charity’ employers by staging an unofficial walk-out on Thursday 16th October, closing four of the five sites.

This, along with another two days of official strike over the weekend and two more days called for next weekend has increased the pressure on charity Salvaire, who own the Green Company, who subcontract the recycling sites from multinational Veolia, who have a 30 year contract to manage Sheffield council’s waste services. What a way to run a public service!

The 30 GMB union members are in dispute over pay, welfare facilities and the way the contract is managed, with serious questions about the misuse of public funds.

Public support for the strikers is high. Leafleting and talking to car drivers taking waste to tips you hear repeated comments like ‘I’m a health worker, I’m a teacher, I work for the council, we’re all in the same boat, good luck to you.’

All this is a major embarrassment to Sheffield’s Labour council who provoked 30 odd days strike action by recycling workers two years ago by cutting the budget that led to reduced opening days and hours.

The council leader has now invited the GMB to a top level meeting. The union and workers want Salvaire/Green Co. sacked and the recycling contract taken back in-house or run under a workers’ cooperative. If the council doesn’t deliver, there will be more strikes next weekend and then maybe all-out.

Alistair Tice

This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 20 October 2014 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.