Surrey bin strike: Industrial action by refuse collectors next month

Summer of discontent continues: Striking binmen refuse to collect rubbish from affluent Surrey streets for 20 DAYS next month in strike over pay

  • Strike by GMB members employed by Amey in Elmbridge and Surrey Heath 
  • Union bosses warn of no kerbside rubbish collection from August 1 until 19
  • Camberley, Cobham, Esher, Frimley, Walton and Weybridge will be affected
  • GMB says refuse workers with the union are ‘at least £3 per hour underpaid’

Refuse collection workers in affluent areas of Surrey have announced they will go on strike for 20 days next month in a fresh dispute in the industry over pay.

The GMB said its members employed by Amey in Elmbridge and Surrey Heath will strike from August 1 to 19, with no kerbside rubbish collection for the period.

This affected area includes Camberley, Cobham, Esher, Frimley, Walton-on-Thames and Weybridge – and the union warned that further walkouts are planned.

GMB bosses said locals in Surrey can ‘now look forward to what is looking likely to be the hottest and now probably the smelliest August for many years’. 

They added that refuse workers with the union are ‘at least £3 per hour underpaid’. 

It comes amid the growing so-called ‘summer of discontent’ with the biggest rail strikes in 30 years and disruption to courts caused by barristers walking out.

Rubbish piles up in Brighton during a strike in the city by GMB members in October last year

Paul Grafton, GMB regional officer, said: ‘We have continually pushed Amey since April over pay as our members feel they are woefully underpaid and completely under-valued.

‘Our members are at least £3 per hour underpaid, plus they don’t have the same levels of sick pay or pension benefits compared to those who are still working under local authority control elsewhere.

‘The waste industry has become a race to the bottom when it comes to terms and conditions of employment as they attempt to use other waste contractors as comparators to drive wages down, something that has been happening for some time now within the entire industry.

‘Residents of Surrey Heath and Elmbridge Borough Councils can now look forward to what is looking likely to be the hottest and now probably the smelliest August for many years.

‘Anyone who lives locally who is not thrilled by the prospect of rubbish piling up in their streets and gardens should contact their local councillors to encourage them to lobby their waste contractor Amey to get back around the negotiating table.’

Cobham is one of the parts of Surrey that will be affected by next month’s bin strike (file image)

Surrey Heath Councillor Colin Dougan, portfolio holder for environment and community, said: ‘It is very disappointing that the GMB and Amey have not been able to come to an agreement on pay and that the GMB have decided to go down the route of strike action.

When are the next UK rail strikes planned? 

Rail union bosses have warned of a ‘summer of discontent’, with the next strikes planned as follows:

  • This Wednesday (July 27): RMT workers at Network Rail and train operators; TSSA at Avanti West Coast
  • This Saturday (July 30): Aslef drivers at Arriva Rail London, Chiltern Railways, Greater Anglia, Great Western, Hull Trains, LNER, Southeastern and West Midlands Trains
  • August 18 and 20: RMT workers at Network Rail and train operators

‘Our priority is always serving our community. We are working to ensure Amey have contingency plans in place. The contingency plans aim to minimise the impact on residents – but can’t be finalised until the GMB communicate the extent of the strike action.

‘We will be working hard to protect the core food and waste collection services that our residents most rely on, and to do this we may need to temporarily redirect resources away from other services such as recycling and bulky waste collection and street cleaning.’

The GMB has held a series of strikes this year among refuse collection workers in several parts of the country over pay.

A spokesman for Joint Waste Solutions, which manages waste collection for the two councils, said: ‘We have been informed that discontinuous strike action by Amey employees working on the waste collection and street cleaning services in Elmbridge and Surrey Heath will take place from Monday 1 August to Friday 19 August.

‘The action was voted for by GMB union members in a ballot related to pay settlement negotiations that have been taking place between Amey and the GMB.

‘We are trying to obtain more specific details of the action to be taken within this three-week period. Currently it is not known what form the action may take, nor the extent of its impact.

‘We are currently working with Amey on a range of contingency plans and if the strike action goes ahead, we hope it will be possible to minimise the impact on the service residents receive and regret any inconvenience this may cause.’

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