Ealing Binmen Threaten to Strike Over Pay

Union says council has failed to offer an adequate increase

Residents face the prospect of streets strewn with rubbish
Residents face the prospect of streets strewn with rubbish. Picture: Joe Burn

Ealing Borough residents may have to put up with smelly streets and piles of rubbish after bin men threatened to walk out over pay. Rubbish collection workers working for Ealing Council are voting on strike action after union GMB said the council failed to offer staff an adequate rise.

Street cleaners, bin men, grounds maintenance staff and recycling workers in the borough could join the industrial action. GMB said the council’s waste company Greener Ealing had failed to offer workers a pay rise that kept up with the spiralling cost of living.

The local authority offered to top up its contract with Greener Ealing by 2 per cent to fund wage increases in 2022, but the union argues the extra payments are not enough. It has blasted Ealing Council for showing “a complete lack of respect for employees and their families.”

Greener Ealing is the only rubbish collection company in London to not have yet made a pay offer to its employees, according to the union. GMB said staff and their families had been struggling to make ends meet since April, when a new pay deal should have been agreed.

Keith Williams, a senior GMB organiser, said, “Ealing Council has offered Greener Ealing an additional 2 per cent uplift in the contract price to fund pay increases for 2022 but this is nowhere near enough, especially in the current economic climate. Members and their families should not be the collateral damage in the failure of Ealing Council and Greener Ealing to come to a satisfactory arrangement.

“Any industrial dispute and disruption to services will be as a result of the failure of Greener Ealing and Ealing Council, as they have had seven months to resolve this situation. While Greener Ealing and Ealing Council continue to ignore and disrespect the needs of our members, GMB is moving ahead through the stages of industrial action. Employees cannot be expected to put up with such inept management.”

The union is calling on the council to follow up on a letter sent to central government in July in which it requested urgent funding for local government workers. In the letter, the local authority warned it would have to cut jobs and services if extra cash wasn’t made available.

Cllr Gary Malcolm, the leader of the opposition on the council said, "Liberal Democrats believe that this episode is totally avoidable if Ealing Labour treats keyworkers with the respect they deserve. For a party that claims to be on the side of workers, it is frankly insulting that Labour are offering a minuscule 2% pay rise when the country is facing the biggest cost-of-living crisis in living memory. Key workers, like the refuse collectors, have served us during the pandemic, and deserved to be treated better than this.

"Liberal Democrats say that this latest episode, along with recent missed bin collections across Ealing borough, is another reminder of Labour's mismanagement of waste collection services. Perhaps Ealing Labour should concentrate on improving key services before engaging in more PR exercises."

Ealing Council has been contacted for comment.

Jacob Phillips - Local Democracy Reporter

September 8, 2022