Rubbish could be piling up in the streets of four London boroughs during the Christmas period after union leaders asked bin men and women to vote on strike action over their employers’ rights to sack sick staff.
Refuse contractors Veolia in Southwark, Lambeth, Richmond and Kingston want to be able to discipline any employee who is ill and unable to work for more than six days.
Dustmen’s and women’s union the GMB is now calling on the firm to bin the draconian sickness policy changes to avert strike action at 11 depots – the four in London and the others in the south of England.
GMB Southern said: “We are calling on the company to abandon these changes or else we will have no option but to escalate the matter to a strike that should be avoidable.”
The GMB also says the company wants to drop its compliance with national agreements on drug and alcohol testing.
GMB says that for manual workers, working in challenging conditions, the contract changes are unacceptable and create a culture of fear and intimidation – and are open to abuse by local management.
Nadine Houghton, GMB Regional Organiser said: “Our members are up in arms about these changes. They make it far easier for staff to be dismissed for a short period of absence, something that too often occurs simply as a result of bad luck.
“For people handling tonnes of waste every day in every weather condition, this is simply unacceptable. We are calling on the company to abandon these changes or else we will have no option but to escalate the matter to a strike that should be avoidable.”
Veolia are likely to be issued with a notice about the ballot today. The vote would open for two weeks from next week and if more than 50 per cent vote in favour, a strike could take place within six months.
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