Nearly 3 months after it started, the city-wide bin strike has finally come to an end today. Refuse workers have accepted a pay offer which protects their income and rules out privatisation.
The strike started back in early September, when refuse workers walked out after the Tory/Lib-Dem council inexcusably used equal pay legislation to cut the pay of bin men by £4,500 from an £18,000 salary -; to bring their pay in to line with low paid women working for the city council.
The council took far too long to come to the negotiating table. It’s strategy, described by John Battle MP as “political adventurism” was aimed at privatising the service, not harmonising pay.
Rachel welcomed the end of the strike, saying “In Leeds we want a council that can stand up and support people in the recession and provide decent public services for tax-payers. And that includes those people living in poorer areas of the city -; who were largely ignored by the contracted replacements in favour of easier-to-navigate affluent suburbs. The last 11 weeks show the risks we face with a Tory or Tory/Lib Dem government, regardless of Dave Cameron’s vaporous rhetoric.”
Keith Wakefield, head of the Council’s Labour group told the Yorkshire Post: “I am obviously delighted that an agreement has finally been reached between the unions and the council to end the industrial action of bin workers and street cleaners in the city.
“However, we cannot get away from the fact that the reason this industrial action happened was because of the sheer incompetence shown by the Tory-Lib Dem administration in control of the Council.
“There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that an agreement could have been reached to end the strike a lot earlier, if the council had not refused to speak to the unions for four weeks at the beginning.
“We will now be seeking to establish what the true cost of this industrial action was to the tax payer, as we remain totally unconvinced by the figures put forward by the Council so far.”
The end of the bin strike is welcome. But this council’s errors will not be quickly forgotten by the city.