Thurrock bin strike (uploaded 21/04/2021)
Thurrock bin strike (uploaded 21/04/2021)

Alasdair Cook, Dorset Socialist Party

The refuse strike in Wiltshire that began less than two weeks ago has ended with the workers winning a better settlement. The original offer put forward by Hills Municipal Collections, of 7% over two years, has been accepted, but the bonus scheme that was previously only given to certain workers, has now been given to more staff, with also further uplifts for staff on the lowest rates of pay.

The Wiltshire refuse strike began in Salisbury on 7 March over attacks on pay and conditions. Then came the attacks on the strikers themselves.

On the picket line there had been repeated and frequent incidences of strikers being hit by lorry drivers. In Salisbury, two bin workers were hit and had to receive treatment at the local hospital. This, according to the GMB union rep, was believed to be ordered by management. Since then, the employee responsible has been suspended. Similar incidents have been reported at other disputes with Hills in Trowbridge and Calne.

While their original pay demand was not met, the offer was almost unanimously accepted. In just a couple of months, the Salisbury site had gone from no one unionised to around 70% of the workforce on strike with GMB. This short dispute will have given confidence to the workers for when management attempts this again.