Sheffield walkout triggered by council subcontractor’s abuses
REFUSE workers in Sheffield are due to strike early today after an overwhelming vote for industrial action over alleged bullying by bosses.
The strike is the first involving all the South Yorkshire city’s refuse workers for 17 years.
Refuse services in Sheffield are run by contractors Veolia on behalf of Sheffield City Council.
Veolia employs subcontractors, including The Green Company which runs four recycling centres in Sheffield.
Workers at the centres have been involved in long-running disputes with the company stretching back to 2014.
Problems have included allegations of bullying and lack of toilet and washroom facilities.
One employee was sacked after he spoke on a local radio phone-in show, urging Sheffield City Council to take action against the subcontractors.
The latest incidents include the use of CCTV cameras in vehicles.
GMB says installation of the cameras — done without consultation — has led to a huge increase in disciplinary action against employees with accusations of “gross misconduct.”
The union said in a statement yesterday that no-one wanted a strike but the 92.5 per cent vote in favour of action shows workers’ depth of anger at the mistreatment.
GMB regional organiser Peter Davies said: “We have been averaging several gross misconduct cases a week in Sheffield.
“One GMB member, Dave Wright, was recently sacked for health and safety breaches at Green Co, where he had little to no responsibility or influence.
“His manager, and Green Co themselves, were never sanctioned for these breaches and the GMB membership are incensed by this.”
Talks on the dispute were continuing as the Star went to press.
Veolia said in a statement: “Veolia have been working closely with the GMB and our employees over the past few weeks. We are disappointed with the GMB’s earlier announcement to carry out strike action.”
The company said it would issue a statement later “on the status of the collection service and any alternative arrangements.”