Bins, photo Ivor Ibrahamsen (Creative Commons)

Bins, photo Ivor Ibrahamsen (Creative Commons)   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Matt Hirst, Huddersfield Socialist Party

In an ongoing dispute from the end of last year, Kirklees bin workers are now taking strike action from 3-9 July. This comes after talks between local government trade union Unison and Kirklees council have collapsed, after a lack of control of senior staff by the council.

Industrial action was avoided in June pending the results of an investigation into bullying and racism, going back to November. During that time the operations manager at the centre of the claims was told to work from another site.

However this manager failed to respect this request and continually went to the main Vine Street facility that services Huddersfield, attempting to intimidate staff, according to Unison officials.

This culminated in a lead shop steward being told that he should be working on trade union business full time and should no longer complete the round he has done for the last 20 years.

This was quickly seen for what it was, an attempt to remove a steward from work colleagues and to distance workers from their trade union representation. The lead steward promptly refused, leading to management ordering him to go home!

The final straw came as last-ditch efforts were put into a meeting between Unison officials and Kirklees council management at conciliation service Acas.

When the Unison officials were entering the meeting room, who should be outside but the operations manager at the centre of the bullying claims!

This clear attempt at further intimidation of union officials showed the lack of respect that Kirklees Labour-run council has for workers and union officials.

Pickets were strong and lively as the bin workers have a history of being militant, initially taking wildcat strike action to get the investigations into the bullying and racism claims started.

Huddersfield Socialist Party members are going down on a daily basis to show solidarity with the workers and one of the lead stewards from Unison will speak at our branch meeting on Thursday 5 July from 7.15pm at the Irish Centre on Fitzwilliam Street, Huddersfield.