Pickets were out in numbers at Prospect Way in Selby, as a strike by Selby binmen began as scheduled on Tuesday morning.
The strikes, which have been called by Unite the union, will impact bin collection, street cleaning and road sweeping services in Selby on Tuesdays and Fridays over the next seven weeks. The Selby workforce is employed by an outside company, Urbaser, as a result of a contract agreed by it with the former Selby District Council. The union says that this on much less favourable terms than those of in-house workers in the rest of the successor North Yorkshire Council. Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “It is unbelievable that Urbaser thinks it can get away with paying its workers such astonishingly low wages.
North Yorkshire Council should not be allowing such exploitative pay for work that is by its nature dirty, heavy and unpleasant. “Unite is absolutely focused on defending and improving our members’ jobs, pay and conditions and Urbaser’s Selby workforce will receive the union’s unflinching support.” Andy Turner, Regional Operations Manager, Urbaser Ltd, said: “A small proportion of employees were involved in industrial action at our Selby depot today, in response to a pay dispute. Notwithstanding, recycling and green waste collections went ahead today with minimal disruption, and we will endeavour to continue to deploy our remaining resources to limit any further disturbance to services during this period. “Urbaser Ltd values its staff members, and our track record shows that we are responsive to the needs of our employees regarding pay. We have offered a fair wage increase of 8 per cent for our Selby workforce, which is comparable to other refuse workers across the North Yorkshire unitary authority, but this has unfortunately been rejected by Unite. We hope that Unite will reengage in constructive discussions so that we are able to resolve the dispute swiftly. “Maintaining these front-line services is our utmost priority and we wish to reassure residents that our remaining resources will be used to minimise disruption to waste and recycling collections during this period.“ Unite regional officer Richard Bedford said: “Our members do not want to strike but have been left with no choice because of the rubbish pay, which is amongst the lowest in the country. The disruption that will be caused to the public is entirely the fault of Urbaser and the council, which needs to pressure the company into tabling an offer our members can accept.”
One member of the picket line in Prospect Way said: “We do a dangerous, dirty and unpleasant job, but we’re paid wages that are only just above minimum wage. We’ve been trying to negotiate a settlement since January, but without any joy. We’re mostly local lads, so we really care about the impact this will have. We will suffer too with the strike.”
Pickets outside Selby’s Prospect Way depot. (29-06-114 ST CG)