Bin strikes to hit east London in general election week

Refuse workers walked out in Tower Hamlets last year  (Jeremy Selwyn)
Refuse workers walked out in Tower Hamlets last year (Jeremy Selwyn)

Rubbish could pile up at polling stations in east London after bin workers announced a walkout in the week of the general election.

Refuse collectors in Redbridge are set to strike for seven days from Monday July 1.

They are threatening not to collect waste in Ilford North, where shadow health secretary Wes Streeting is standing for re-election, and Ilford South, where Redbridge council leader Jas Athwal is running as Labour's parliamentary candidate in the vote on July 4.

Union Unite said employees at Redbridge Civic Services, a subsidiary of the local authority, are subject to worse conditions than their local authority colleagues.

They claim vehicles often break down and are not repaired, they have longer working days, less generous sick pay and there is pressure to work overtime at weekends.

Unite union regional officer Nick West said: “Local politicians need to recognise the anger of our members and can look forward to seeing rubbish piled up outside polling stations if they don't take immediate action to fix this situation."

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham added: “This is disgraceful behaviour from the council who are treating some of their most vital workers appallingly. That the council leader can’t do the decent thing for his workers speaks volumes and Unite won’t stand for it.

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“Redbridge council is guilty of trying to operate a vital frontline service on the cheap and it must immediately get its house in order. Our members have the union’s total support.”

Redbridge council has been contacted for comment.

Last year festering piles of rotting rubbish lined the streets of the East End when refuse collectors launched a two week walkout.

Tower Hamlets council came to a deal with strikers after decomposing food and discarded nappies lay in mounds up to 6ft-high in some roads.

A Redbridge Council spokesperson said: "An independent company, Redbridge Civic Services (RCS), manages the waste contract in Redbridge. RCS are currently in the early stages of negotiations with Unite to prevent strike action.

“The Council is confident that the extensive package of support offered by RCS, which follows generous salary increases in 2022 and 2023, provides fair renumeration and represents a significant improvement in employee conditions. “

"The Council is helping to facilitate negotiations in the hope that both parties can reach an agreement to prevent strike action and ensure the local people we all serve are not impacted adversely."