Sheffield bin strike: Everything you need to know about the Veolia worker strike affecting the city
Sheffield waste collectors will go on 'permanent strike' from November 22 in response to their employer, Veolia, failing to meet their demand for a better pay deal.
As a result, the industrial action could affect more than 200,000 households across the city.
The GMB Union said refuse workers had voted to ‘strike permanently’ after Veolia management ‘broke the bank’ to bring in agency staff in an attempt, the union said, to undermine their industrial action.
More than 100 bin collectors went on strike on Monday and took part in a protest march and rally after voting for industrial action following a below-inflation pay offer from Veolia.
Here’s everything you need to know about the ongoing bin strike that is set to affect the city.
Why are the workers angry and what is their demand?
The GMB Union said the workers have asked for a reasonable pay rise to reflect the hard work they put in during the pandemic but Veolia 'do not want to talk about a pay rise'.
The initial deal that was offered to the commercial division was a three per cent increase on a two-year deal with a £500 payment, which they said, is no longer acceptable.
The union said the deal was reasonable six months ago but is no longer valid since there has been a national insurance hike and inflation is now running at five per cent.
It is understood that the union is now seeking a one year six per cent deal with further industrial action planned.
What is Veolia's response to their demand?
Veolia said they were disappointed to learn that despite having proposed a three per cent increase in year one and three per cent increase in year two, which they said met the requests of the GMB union, this deal was then rejected in a ballot.
The firm however said it will continue to engage with workers and GMB union representatives and is working to minimise any disruption to residents' recycling and waste services.
It also offered their apology to affected residents for the inconvenience the strike will cause.
Veolia has also deployed additional workers from an agency to work throughout the week in place of striking workers.
What happens next?
A four-hour protest is planned on November 15 and an 'all out strike' on November 22, when the permanent strike is set to begin.
The GMB Union said it will not 'mess about' when it announced that the strike will go on permanently 'all day, every day' until both parties have reached an agreement.
It said notice has been served to Veolia that from November 22 workers will be on permanent strike.
This means, more than 200,000 homes could be affected by the industrial action.
When will the residents’ bins be emptied?
Veolia said affected residents should leave their bins out until they are emptied.
It plans to empty bins as normal and residents are asked to put their bins out for collection by 7am on their usual day.
The industrial action may however mean that some may not be emptied on their scheduled day.
Veolia added: “If your collection does not take place, please leave your bin out until it has been emptied.”
Veolia said if residents' bin collections are due on November 15, they will attempt to collect the bins over the weekend before the scheduled day.
“Please put your bin out for collection by 7am on Saturday, November 13 and leave it out until it has been emptied,” the firm said.
All five Household Waste Recycling Centres in Sheffield are however unaffected by the industrial action and remain open as normal with winter hours in operation.
Residents are advised to check opening days before visiting.
For up-to-date information and service alerts about recycling and waste collections, please visit www.sheffield.gov.uk/waste or you can follow @recycle4shef on Twitter.
What have the residents said?
Since the workers voted in favour of industrial action against Veolia, which impacts residents across the city, there has been a mix of reactions.
Supporting the workers' right to strike, one said: “Pay the binmen what they want and there won't be any strikes. See how easy that was to sort out?”
Another agreed, saying: “They don't get anywhere near 50 grand a year, last year they were heroes. Now people want to know what they earn or speculate about their wages.”
But one resident disagreed. He said these workers were 'shooting themselves in the foot.'
He said: “These bins still have to be collected once the strike ends. And it isn't their company that suffers from it, it's normal people who have nothing to do with what they get paid.”
The majority of residents however appear to be in support of the striking workers.
One said: “It's about pay and conditions, not the amount of rubbish they have to move.
“If you're forced to do extra work for the same pay, you're being exploited. Join a union and do something about it.”
Another added: “Well done sticking up for yourselves, shame other unions don't take the same action.”
Another one wrote: “These lads worked all way through a pandemic. They need the public to back them.”
One said: “Solidarity with all refuse workers in their struggle for fair pay and conditions.”
Another agreed: “Give them more money the city would not run with out them. They do a great job and out in all weather”.