CRUNCH talks are being held to try and resolve the Bromley binmen dispute which could see the workers walking out on Friday (December 14) and over Christmas.
But if the talks between the employer Veolia Environmental Services and Unite union are not successful the union will press ahead with its industrial action over the sacking of four binmen for gross misconduct.
After the one day strike the workers are planning to also strike on 27th, 28th and 31st December.
They hope this will lead to the reinstatement of the sacked four who were fired after they took away garden waste for a woman - which is forbidden as they are only allowed to collect household waste.
Bromley Council, which pays Veolia to collect household waste on its behalf, says the garden waste included 14 large bags and some chairs and weighed around 400kg.
Unite regional officer Onay Kasab (pictured above) said: "Despite our best efforts to get Veolia to see sense and re-instate the four workers, it has left us with no option but to take strike action.
"Strike action is not what our members want, but the blame for the bins going uncollected this Christmas and New Year falls squarely on the shoulders of the company.
"Unite is ready to talk, but if the company continues to stick its head in the sand and ignore our pleas, it only has itself to blame for the rubbish piling up on the streets of Bromley this Christmas."
A Veolia Environmental Services spokesman said: "We are committed to working towards a resolution of this dispute, but cannot comment further at this stage."
RESIDENTS' VIEWS ON THE STRIKE
The news of the strike has not been welcomed by residents who are concerned about how it will affect them over Christmas.
Alan Gibbs, 51, of Castledine Road, in Penge, said: "I’m not too happy, it is a long time and a bad service.
"I can appreciate the reason they are doing it but it’s difficult because where we are situated, they often miss us anyway. "We’re going to have to take our bins to the tip over the Christmas period.
"Hopefully it will go back to normal."
And 39-year-old David Moon, of Queen Anne Avenue, Bromley, said: "I don’t know the details of the sacking but it seems a bit harsh, I would have thought it was three strikes and you’re out or something like that.
"My sympathy certainly isn’t with the council because they outsourced the service in the first place and now it’s affecting our council tax.
"Instead my sympathy is with the tax-payer, myself included, because we are going to be affected this Christmas and we haven’t done anything wrong."
Rosamund Bray, of Lubbock Road, Chislehurst, said: “If it happens for several weeks I will complain.
“I hope it does not get out of hand."
The 72-year-old added: “We are very elderly around here and don’t have a choice.
“If it gets out of sync, the binmen get confused and we don’t know where we are in terms of when our rubbish gets collected.”
WHAT THE BINMEN SAY
Speaking anonymously to the News Shopper, for fear of losing their jobs, one refuse worker said: "Veolia managers have been threatening us.
“We have been told that if we strike, we will be punished.
“But this is why we will strike, because we are sick and tired of being bullied"
And another worker added: "These four men are four great, really good blokes that have been treated very, very badly by the firm.
“That is why people are so angry.
“I cannot begin to describe how upset all four of them are.
“They are desperate and I mean desperate, to get back to work.
"The families of the four have been hit too.
“No way do they deserve to be sacked. That's why I am striking."
BROMLEY COUNCIL’S VIEW
Portfolio holder for the environment Councillor Colin Smith (pictured) said: “Even at this late stage, I would strongly encourage the union to reconsider its position.
“If the decision stands, I would respectfully urge all refuse crews to please disregard the strike call and continue with their normal duties.
“The ongoing threat of strike action is particularly disappointing because having gone out of their way to find a way forward, Veolia’s offer of binding arbitration was rejected by the union.
“Had they accepted, it could have resolved the dispute by allowing all facts and points of view to be decided independently at ACAS.
“Bromley’s residents deserve far better than a needless strike like this, particularly at Christmas.”