WDC Waste Collection Update 17 May 2022

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 11th 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:

“The Trade Union has rejected our enhanced offer which included above inflationary increases and pay parity with the other two councils in the East Sussex contract, which is disappointing.  We are working hard to minimise any disruption to service while GMB members continue to strike.”

The deal that has already been rejected by the GMB union, but accepted by the union Unison which also has members working for Biffa, would see pay increase by up to 17% this year plus a £600.00 guaranteed bonus.  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.”  Instead, as a national waste contractor, Biffa have been in communication with the GMB’s national office to try to make progress. 

It is with great disappointment that Biffa have informed us the further improved pay offer made on Wednesday during their meeting with representatives of the GMB union and the independent conciliation and arbitration service, ACAS, has been rejected by the GMB following a ballot by their members.

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.  

In the meantime, we can confirm that following intervention by the Police today to enforce lawful access to and from the depot, which had until now been blocked by the picket line, Biffa have been able to operate two rubbish collection rounds in the southern half of the District today.  To make the most effective use of these lorries the two rounds being serviced today have the greatest number of properties and will empty bins for almost 2,000 households in Stone Cross, Hellingly and a small part of Hailsham.  If access to the depot is maintained, Biffa will assess the options for continuing to operate a limited refuse bin collection service for households in the southern area of Wealden that has not had collections since the first days of the strike.

Unfortunately, due to the strike and the limited staff available, Biffa are unable to deploy these collection services and operate the pop up waste sites at the same time. Servicing the regular rounds where possible is however preferable to operating the pop up sites because they will collecting more waste in a day and reach the residents that may not have means to transport their waste to a pop up site or the local tip.

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

We hope our residents see this this is a positive development and will work with Biffa to maintain or potentially increase services wherever possible to help reduce the disruption while the strike continues.

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.