WDC Waste collection industrial action update

Wednesday 8th June 2022 – Waste collection and street cleansing industrial action update

We sincerely regret that the strike by members of the GMB union working for Biffa in Wealden continues today.

Our waste contractor, Biffa, have informed us that the GMB union have notified them of their intention to extend the strike action up to the 25th June 2022.  This is disappointing bearing in mind Biffa reiterate they remain committed to resolving this dispute and will continue to engage with representatives of the GMB union to reach a fair settlement for their employees and the residents of Wealden. 

The latest statement from Biffa is:

“We’re disappointed that the GMB has rejected our improved offer. We enhanced the offer with a proposal for a 2-year deal which included significantly above inflation increases (17% for this year and a minimum of 7% next year, a cash lump sum, and pay parity with the other two councils in the East Sussex contract.)  The offer was made following a constructive day of negotiations facilitated by ACAS and unfortunately members have chosen to continue with strike action. We are working hard to minimise any disruption to service.”

The latest deal that has been rejected by the GMB union would see pay increase by up to 17% this year plus a £600.00 guaranteed bonus with a further increase of at least 7% next year with the guaranteed bonus to be permanently included as salary . This would see annual pay levels for loader operatives at over twenty three thousand pounds, this being several thousand pounds above that of the National Minimum Wage and the higher National Living Wage, with higher paid driver roles receiving equally generous increases.  By comparison, the pay award for nurses for 2022/23 is expected to be up to 3% and State pensions are to increase by 3.1% for 2022. 

We understand that local GMB representatives have been commenting making statements regarding Biffa not engaging with them in meaningful negotiations.  Regrettably it is difficult to do so when those same representatives make statements such as “we mustn’t start negotiating until the rubbish piles up in the streets.”  Biffa have made several improved offers to end this strike, all of which have been rejected by the GMB and their members.  In contrast there has been little movement on the pay demands from the GMB.

We continue to believe our residents deserve to know this information to take an informed view on the merits of the industrial action being taken and, whether the strike is being extended unnecessarily by the GMB union.  

Biffa are working hard to operate further scheduled rubbish collection rounds throughout this week in the southern area of Wealden where collection disruption has more widespread due to the strike action. These rounds will be used to collect from as many properties and areas as possible.  However, as it will not be possible to operate some rubbish collection rounds this week there will be some households that do not receive a scheduled collection this week, for which we sincerely apologise.

Today, Wednesday 8th June, Biffa are operating scheduled rubbish collection rounds working in Polegate, Stone Cross, Herstmonceux and Hailsham.  If you live in these areas and your rubbish bin is due to be emptied today, please ensure it is put out for collection.

Tomorrow, Thursday 9th June, Biffa are again planning to operate scheduled rubbish collection rounds working in Stone Cross, Westham, Waldron, Cross in Hand, Horam, East Hoathly and Hailsham.  If you live in these areas and your rubbish bin is due to be emptied on Thursday, please ensure it is put out for collection.

Again we regret there will be no recycling or garden waste collections today. 

Please note that whilst the strike is ongoing the amount of rubbish that can be collected by the crews that are working is limited so they may not be able to remove some or all of the extra waste if bags are placed next to the bin.  At this time Biffa are working to ensure as many households as possible receive at least a collection of the contents of the rubbish bin however, when the strike ends, a catch up process will be implemented to remove excess rubbish that may have accumulated, along with recycling and garden waste which for now remain suspended due to the strike.

Where residents are using their local County Council amenity tip, we kindly ask people to be kind and patient with each other and the site staff.  This comes following recent reports of verbal abuse of site staff.  We ask residents to appreciate these staff are not employed by Biffa and are not involved in the strike in any way.  They are simply working as hard as possible to ensure residents have a facility to dispose of their waste during this strike and beyond.

Please continue to check our daily updates for the latest information on collection services.

Once again, we apologise for any inconvenience that may be caused by this situation and thank you for your cooperation and understanding during this time.

The following are services that will be operating in full or in part today: 

  • Rubbish collections – Approximately two thirds of the rounds scheduled to empty rubbish bins today are working.  Please put your rubbish bin out if you are due a collection today. If it is not emptied please leave it in place for three working days as efforts are being made to catch up on missed rubbish collections.  If its remains uncollected after this, please take it back in and use the link below to our questions and answers to find out what to do.
  • Clinical waste and sharps box collections – operating as normal
  • Bulky Waste Collections – operating as normal
  • Bin deliveries and exchanges – operating as normal
  • Street litter bins and dog waste bins – some disruption to services

The following are services that will not be operating today: 

  • Approximately one third of the rubbish collections (see above)
  • Garden Waste Collections
  • Recycling Collections

We appreciate this is an inconvenience and concern to residents and we apologise for this situation while Biffa and the GMB union work to reach a fair settlement.