Word from the frontline

A few days ago, we put up this post about bin workers in Thurrock threatening to go on strike in protest at shoddy, underhand treatment from the council: Thurrock bin workers set to go out on strike. When Thurrock Council got wind of the bin workers threat, they responded with what could best be described as an attempt to cover their own arses: Council blast at union officers for ‘misleading’ information as bins service is reshaped. Understandably, the bin workers did not like their position being misrepresented. One of them contacted Neil Speight, the editor of Thurrock Nub News, to express his frustration at the attitude of the management at the council: Blast from the front line as Thurrock Council worker tells of colleagues’ fears and the lack of support from senior management. Obviously, the worker was not named in the piece to protect him from victimisation by management.

These are his words:

They are gutless.

Please tell people what the workers feel, but please don’t use my name as I am in fear of losing my job if you do.

But I would be grateful if you can tell the public it’s not just the refuse collection crews who are angry and upset. It’s also the highways service which is also an essential service where the highways manual workers have worked all through the pandemic and continue to do so.

The highways service are based with the refuse service and the highways service is also responsible for winter gritting and they too have been threatened with severe pay cuts.

Please include the highways teams in your article as they too were all at the union meeting. The refuse teams are not the only important service, the highways teams always are the unsung heroes of the council as they also do emergency cover for out of hours emergencies.

The council have completely played this down and the senior management have let us down.

My fear is now they will take the easy road and pay off the refuse workers and ignore the rest because of fear of strike action on the bins.

The highways team are smaller and not as prominent as waste, and the council is also outsourcing the highways work to a private company – doing it slowly until the whole lot is gone.

And it is important that people know who is on the front line working for them. Few of the senior management have been in work since March. Due to the pandemic they are looking after themselves and leaving the workers to come in and risk getting Covid. They do everything by phone and email.

The director has not been seen since March. Luke Love and Peter Wright are management and occasionally they pop in but in truth they are really running the show from the comfort and safety of their homes.

Now they are trying to cut our wages after we’ve been in work all over the pandemic with no thanks whatsoever.”

When you read that the management at Thurrock Council have largely been doing their jobs from home with the occasional visit to the office while frontline workers have been out on the streets throughout the whole of the COVID19 crisis, you can understand why workers are angry. Regardless of your views on the COVID19 crisis, we should all be able to agree that the management at the council are completely out of order.

As stated previously, we’re offering our unconditional solidarity to any strike action the bin workers may take. That solidarity extends to any other frontline workers who’ve had enough of being treated like shite by the council and feel they have no other option but to withdraw their labour.

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