One thing that struck us about the Thurrock bin workers strike was the amount of support and interest it gained from outside the borough. Obviously local support was crucial and welcome but the outside support was an indication of how important it was that the workers won the dispute. Many other local authorities are trying to do what Thurrock Council attempted and failed to do – screw the pay and conditions of their front line workers. With the bin workers in Thurrock winning their battle, this can only boost the morale of other workers up and down the country facing the same thing from their authorities.
This piece about the strike from Tribune is an indication of how important the victory of the Thurrock bin workers is in the overall scheme of things:
By Taj Ali
In the midst of a pandemic, Thurrock’s bin workers found themselves facing council cuts that would have left them £4,000 a year worse off – so they organised, went on strike and beat the bosses.
After six weeks on the picket line, refuse workers in Thurrock have won. It is a landmark victory for the refuse sector, council workers and their union, Unite, and one that seemed some way off for much of the dispute. But it is the latest in a string of wins for workers early this summer which suggests that employers who seek to use the pandemic to push through attacks on conditions aren’t having it all their own way.
The refuse workers were on strike over proposals by Thurrock Council which would have drastically worsened their pay and conditions. These changes ranged from contractually guaranteed overtime to the payments drivers receive for conducting vehicle maintenance checks and, in total, would have left them in the region of £4,000 worse off.
The changes were prompted by a decision from Thurrock Council to bring in outside corporate advisors in a major restructuring. Mark, one of those who went out on strike and has worked for Thurrock Council for 13 years, describes the background,
The changes in the terms and conditions that the council wanted to bring were going to have a serious impact financially. The council pay a hell of a lot of money to CEOs, managers, and directors, and they bring in consultants to tell them what to do. That’s what happened here: they brought in a consultancy firm to upgrade what they class as an outdated pay system.
‘Consultancy in local government is a big thing,’ says Willie, the workers’ rep with Unite the union. ‘You can see it in the NHS: just look at how many people there are that get paid ridiculous amounts. I’m talking £2,000-3,000 for a day’s consultancy.’
You can read the rest of this piece here