Redbridge binmen threaten election day strike

Bin collections in Redbridge could be halted as workers look set to strike over “worsening conditions”.

Employees of Redbridge Civic Services (RCS), a subsidiary of Redbridge Council, say they are subject to poorer conditions than their council colleagues and complaints have gone unheard.

According to trade union Unite, workers consistently start and finish late due to vehicles breaking down and not being repaired, and are pressured to work overtime ‘every weekend,’ which the union says has an impact on both their social lives and mental wellbeing.

Regional officer Nick West said: “Our members collect the borough’s waste in all weathers. They are regularly understaffed and under-resourced making their work far more difficult than it needs to be.”

He said the council was “refusing to give members equal terms and conditions to council workers,” which meant they also received “peanuts in sick pay”.

The officer added: “They aren’t going to stand for this any longer and will have the full support of Unite in their dispute.”

If the ballot is successful, the first round of strikes would take place during the general election on July 4, in which council leader and former board member Jas Athwal is standing as the Labour candidate for Ilford South.

Unite’s general secretary, Sharon Graham, said Cllr Athwal needed to “sort this situation out to avoid bin strikes on election day,” calling the council’s “appalling” treatment of workers “disgraceful”.

RCS was set up by the council in August 2019 as a wholly-owned company, taking over waste and recycling collection from Redbridge’s in-house team.

The company is understood to be negotiating with representatives from Unite, while members have until June 17 to vote on taking industrial action.

A spokesperson for Redbridge Council said negotiations were ongoing.

They said: “An independent company, Redbridge Civic Services, manages the waste contract in Redbridge.

“We understand RCS is in the early stages of negotiations with Unite to prevent strike action.”

Sebastian Mann

Local democracy reporter