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From The Socialist newspaper, 18 November 2009

Leeds council delays talks to end bin dispute

Now into week 11, the bin strike in Leeds has been the most significant piece of industrial action in Yorkshire since the miners' strike.

A Leeds Unison steward

Last week, Leeds council delayed talks so it can seek legal advice. Unison and the GMB have put forward a proposal to lift the grades of the lowest paid, which would close the pay gap for everyone, ensuring no-one loses out.

The council are worried that if these workers' pay is raised, other workers could make equal pay claims and claim back pay through the courts.

Three weeks ago 400 Streetscene and refuse workers voted 92% to reject the council's offer as their productivity targets were impossible and would also mean their pay would be reduced by a third - on average from 18,000 to just 13,000 a year.

With the restoration of weekend rates in their 'offer', pay only increases to 14,500. 4,500 of that would depend on crews collecting bins from 220 properties an hour rather than the current average of 196! The council's own statistics show average collection across neighbouring authorities is 181 bins per hour.

Refuse workers in Leeds get 14,500, well below basic pay in Bradford - 16,663, Kirklees - 16,991, and Wakefield- 16,991.

Meanwhile, Leeds council has paid out more than 1 million to private contractors during the strike and the cost to taxpayers is rising. This figure does not include the extra landfill tax the authority will have to pay as a result of the increased waste going to rubbish dumps rather than recycling centres.

Unions say the private contractors have provided only a very basic service. They have not coped and have only been effective in the more affluent areas of Leeds. One woman contacted the media to say that her bin had not been emptied for ten weeks, and she lives on a main road!

Three of the private contractors have now been warned off supplying staff to carry out striking workers' duties and as a result the council have been forced into employing temporary workers to break the strike.

If there is no settlement in sight, workers fear that the council intend to carry out a threat of dismissal against the striking bin men. Then an indicative ballot for an all-out council strike will take place.

Please send messages of support to: branch@leedsunisonlg.org.uk and desiree.risebury@gmb.org.uk

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In The Socialist 18 November 2009:

Fighting for a future

Youth march for jobs


Global Warming

More evidence of climate change: Socialist planning needed


Socialist Party news and analysis

British Airways merger plan poses new threat to workers

Tamil refugees in desperate situation

Labour pushes nuclear plants

Fast news


Socialist Party workplace news

Third week of Superdrug strike

Brighton bin workers score quick victory

Leeds council delays talks to end bin dispute

Sheffield First bus drivers beat back bullying management


Socialist Party feature

Interview with Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary


Marxist analysis: history

USSR 1989 - the collapse of Stalinism


Socialist Party election analysis

Glasgow North East by-election: Mass abstentions in Labour's 'surprise win'

Far right SDL driven out of Glasgow city centre


Socialist Party Marxist analysis

Service with a snarl: Robert Service refuses to answer questions


Workplace news and analysis

Working life in a car factory

Ericsson closure condemned by Coventry socialist councillor

Save Ashford further education

London trade unionists meet to build workers' solidarity


 

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