Brighton & Hove; Open Letter Over Bin Strike

This is the text of an open letter written by the Chief Executive of Brighton & Hove City Council to residents in the city ahead of a planned strike by refuse and recycling staff.

 

First of all I would like to apologise and say how disappointed I am that we are now facing formal strike action for seven days beginning on Friday 14 June over our proposals to modernise our allowances system. We are still in a consultation period and we will be continuing to invite our unions in for meetings this week, to encourage meaningful discussion and avoid this action
 
This has never been about savings nor specifically Cityclean. The proposals we have put forward will mean allowances are paid consistently and fairly to everyone across the council. At the moment there are unacceptable variations and we are required by law to make sure the system is fair and transparent. Whilst some staff will gain from our proposals, unfortunately some will see a reduction in their allowances, so we have offered compensation in these cases. It is in the best interests of residents, the city and our staff across the council to settle this longstanding and unresolved allowances issue.
 
If planned industrial action does go ahead on Friday we will comply with the law and it will unfortunately mean more disruption to our refuse and recycling service. I would like to say sorry to residents for the problems we may encounter over the coming weeks and to assure you we will do all we can to minimise disruption. In reality our options are very limited; we cannot legally employ replacement staff to do the work of striking workers.
 
However, this week we plan to remove as much refuse as possible. During the strike we would advise residents to put refuse securely in bins or containers. Wherever possible we would ask for recycling to be taken to one of the city’s rubbish and recycling sites which will be open longer during the strike. We hope that residents and visitors will assist us by taking their litter home from the beach, and help to minimise the build up of rubbish.
 
Once again, I am very sorry that our service is being affected during these talks. We will keep you up to date with developments, on our website www.brighton-hove.gov.uk and through our contact centre. We are doing everything we can to find resolution. I strongly urge the GMB to return to the negotiating table with a view to finding an agreed settlement.
 
Regards
Penny Thompson CBE
Chief Executive

This is the statement issued by Council leader, Jason Kitcat


"I am disappointed by the GMB decision to begin industrial action this
Friday. I understand the strong feelings involved and am committed to
ensuring there is a negotiated solution to resolving the difficult
historical equal pay issues for the council's pay and allowances. The
council's negotiating team is engaging openly and regularly with both
recognised trade unions.

"During the forthcoming strike week, which starts on Friday, the
environmental health of the city and its residents are clearly essential and
council officers will continue to meet their public health legal obligations
but this administration will not sanction the use of agency or contract
workers to do the regular work of legitimately striking council staff whilst
those staff are out on strike.
 
"Accordingly, I am able to announce that all agency workers currently
engaged in refuse collection and street cleaning will be withdrawn from
service by 10pm on Thursday night, the day before the strike is due to
begin, and agency workers will not be deployed in these areas during the
strike week.

"The Council continues to invite both recognised unions to negotiating
meetings. That offer is being made daily. I urge the GMB to return to the
table."

This is the statement from the GMB

GMB has welcomed a committment from the leader of Brighton Council that no agency or contractors will be used during any period of industrial action. The committment was made in an e-mail from Council leader Jason Kitcat who said:
“This administration will not sanction the use of agency or contract workers to do the regular work of legitimately striking Council staff whilst those staff are out on strike. Accordingly, I am able to announce that all agency workers currently engaged in refuse collection and street cleaning will be withdrawn from service by 10pm on Thursday night, the day before the strike is due to begin, and agency workers will not be deployed in these areas during the strike week.”

As a result of this committment GMB has confirmed that it will engage in negotiations with the Council to see if a way forward can be found.

Mark Turner, GMB Branch Secretary said:

“This is a small first step for the Council on the way to resolving this dispute. As a result GMB has confirmed that it is willing to attend talks to listen to what the Council have to say.

I will however say that there will need to be substantial movement in their position for industrial action to be averted. Whilst our members do not take strike action lightly, they cannot be expected to accept these reductions to their take home pay. I would like to thank those Councillors in the administration who have supported our members and brought about this decesion.”

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