Eastbourne bin lorry staff strike escalates

Refuse truck drivers in Eastbourne, East Sussex are to strike for an extra six days on top of planned industrial action in an escalating dispute over pay and safety issues. Trade union GMB said the campaign could be extended further if constructive talks are not held with the South Coast local authority soon. The GMB said 20 heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers voted unanimously to take the initial action, with workers downing tools on New Year’s Eve and planning to do the same on 7 and 10 January.

Eastbourne Borough Council attempted to clear bins itself on the first day of the strike, but claimed a union representative blocked its vehicles as they tried to leave the depot. The local authority called this a “dangerous” act and said it was now “taking legal advice” as a result. However, GMB regional organiser Declan MacIntyre said the union has added another six strike days between 14 and 21 January, and warned that this could increase if “the council don’t get around the table with GMB over the next few days and seek a resolution”.

“GMB members have had enough of disgraceful staff facilities, low pay and bullying management,” he said, claiming the council’s attempt to “carry out the duties of lawfully striking HGV drivers” had “inflamed members greatly and was rightfully withdrawn at the depot gate when challenged”. Eastbourne Borough Council said in a statement that the council staff attempting to collect refuse on Friday were not part of the strike action. A spokesperson added that a meeting with the union on 22 December had been considered a “positive step forward”, with the union response on Friday found to be “deeply disappointing”.

“Residents have been advised to take their bins in from the kerbside until the next collection day, with all additional side waste also due to be removed during the next collection,” the council spokesperson added.