Bexley refuse workers announce five days’ strike action

More than 150 Bexley refuse workers are to take five days’ strike action over the continual refusal by outsourcing giant Serco to pay a ‘living’ wage.

The dispute, which predates the March lockdown, has reignited over the refusal of Serco bosses to pay the workers a minimum of £13 an hour, similar to their counterparts in Greenwich. The workers are also angry over a bullying culture.

The five days of strike action are set for July 30 and 31, August 23, 4 and 6, from 5am to 9am each day.

Unite members working on the Bexley contract took a day-and-a-half of strike action in March over pay, but called off their action well before Boris Johnson announced the UK-wide lockdown on 23 March.

Unite regional officer Ruth Hydon said: “The last day of strike action was on March 19 when we called off further strike days because of the pandemic and after Serco agreed to pay all our members sick pay for Covid-19 related absences.

“The controversial outsourcer then reneged on this and did not pay about 30 of our members properly in their April pay pockets.

“The latest round of industrial action has been sparked because Serco have failed to offer our members a decent wage. Their current paltry offer is £10.15 an hour – rejected by our members – is even below the London ‘living wage’, currently £10.75.

“It has also been rejected because Serco has failed to deal with an insidious bullying culture at the Crayford depot.”

In a separate development, Unite have had a meeting with Serco, following criticism from the Health and Safety Executive over the failure to have adequate social distancing measures in place at the Thames Road depot, Crayford, Kent.

Unite said while some progress had been made, there were still some outstanding issues that needed to be addressed.

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