Bexley rubbish collectors to vote over possible strike action

By Lachlan Leeming, Local Democracy Reporter

Bexley’s waste collection workers are set to consider renewed strike action, in the same week that councillors are due to a discuss a report highlighting the reasons behind thousands of missed bin collections in the borough so far this year.

Ruth Hydon, the regional officer for Unite the Union, who represents the 150 Serco workers contracted to Bexley council, said on Friday seven days’ notice had been issued to Serco management of a ballot on further industrial action.

It comes as members of one of Bexley’s overview and scrutiny committees prepare to discuss a report revealing more than 2,500 bin collections were missed across the authority in a six-week period earlier this year.

In its report, Bexley council states “ongoing poor performance continues to be a concern” with the service.

The report identifies multiple instances of when the outsourcing giant was left short of drivers, preventing multiple parts of the borough being serviced, after several caught coronavirus or were forced to shield during the pandemic.

Unite levelled the blame at Serco.

She claimed low rates of pay meant they had difficulty recruiting staff, including drivers, as well as accusing the company of “dire” safety measures at the Crayford depot.

Unite called off a planned five-day strike in July after a pay deal was struck, the latest in a series of industrial actions the union has undertaken over the past year.

The council is currently weighing up a five-year extension to Serco’s contract, which would see the outsourcing giant handle waste collection in the borough until 2025.

Serco has been contacted for comment.


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