Thurrock Council are forced to concede

This is the headline from Thurrock Nub News that hopefully, heralds a victory for striking bin workers: Bin strike is over – household collections will resume on Monday says council.

This is from the Justice For Refuse Workers & Cleansers Facebook page:

This morning after positive negotiations with the council we have voted to suspend our strike action as a written deal was produced. We have accepted this in good faith and thank those who were involved in it. As such we will return to work on Monday and will be working as quick as possible to clear the borough. (Provided this deal is finalised)

From the outset all that we wanted was our existing terms and conditions and pay. This wasn’t about a payrise but about the basic idea that those on the lower end of the scale who worked throughout the pandemic would not be made worse off.

The support that we have had from the residents has been amazing and we want to thank you all; everyone who took a poster, gave out leaflets or visited the picket line. We stick up for our own in Thurrock.

Unsurprisingly, Thurrock Council are putting a different spin on this, saying that the strike has been suspended while negotiations continue with Unite. This is what the council had to say: “Thurrock Council is pleased to announce that strike action in the waste service has been suspended while positive negotiations are ongoing with Unite the Union. This is a significant step forward in the discussions with all three Trade Unions and is particularly good news for residents, who rightly value the regular waste collection service they receive.”

Given the determination of the strikers and the level of public support they received throughout the dispute, there’s no way the workers at a mass meeting would agree to a return to work without being pretty certain they had forced the council to back down. From the issuance of ASBOs, complaints from the council leading to police intervening at the picket and an undercurrent of smears, Thurrock Council have sunk to some pretty low depths during the course of this dispute. The striking workers stood firm in the face of all the council threw at them. Eventually, the council realised that a combination of determination from the strikers, continuing strong support from the public and the piles of rubbish growing all over the borough was putting them in a bad light. They backed down…

Quite rightly, the bin workers and the unions are claiming this as a victory over an arrogant, intransigent Thurrock Council. However, the workers are well aware of the dirty tricks this council can play and will be remaining vigilant to any attempt at backsliding. Meanwhile, we’ll be raising a glass this evening to salute all of the strikers in bringing this about:)

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