Waste collection workers are delivering on their promise of a 'long hot summer stink' in Bexley after two weeks of strikes are now set to be extended until August.

Local residents have described the situation as 'disgraceful' and a 'health issue' after rubbish has started piling up across the borough, with Bexley Council apologising for the 'regrettable' situation.

Many are complaining that it has now been three weeks since their bins were last collected, and Serco, the company who employ the waste collection workers, have said those not on strike are 'working exceptionally hard' to minimise the disruption caused by the 'disappointing strikes'.


News Shopper: Strike action commenced on July 12 and now looks set to continue into August. PAStrike action commenced on July 12 and now looks set to continue into August. PA

Unite, who are behind the strikes, say they are angry at a 'pathetic' pay rise offer from Serco which would be below minimum wage, plus missed wages from the outsourcer, victimising union members and unfair policies.

Serco's running of the waste collection services in Bexley has been a contentious issue for several years now, and earlier this month it was announced that Bexley Council would no longer be working with Serco on bin collections.

Countrystyle Recycling will take over waste and recycling collection from Serco in October after being awarded a 10-year contract. Unite have pledged that the strikes will continue with the dispute also centring on Serco's refusal to pay around 50 staff back wages.

News Shopper:

Around 140 workers who are members of the union began striking on July 12 running all the way up until Sunday, July 25, but Unite has now announced that the strike will resume on Monday morning and continue until Sunday, August 1.

One person on Twitter described it as "Russian roulette for bin day tomorrow" after going three weeks without a collection, whilst another called the sight of bins piling up 'absolutely disgraceful'.



Another Tweeter said the even number houses on their road had their bins collected last week, but the odd numbers were missed, and at this point the household waste and food bins are "becoming a health issue."



In a statement, Bexley Council they 'regret to inform' residents that the industrial action by some Serco workers could be extended until Sunday, August 8.

"We are sorry for the inconvenience caused, but please continue to leave your bins out for collection as we will be trying to operate a limited service."

Refuse (green bin) and food collections are being prioritised, but the council advise people to make sure you leave all your bins out overnight in case the strike is called off at short notice.

News Shopper: Many residents say they haven't had their bins collection in over three weeks now. PAMany residents say they haven't had their bins collection in over three weeks now. PA

If your bins are full, leave excess waste/recycling inside your property, say the council. They added that residents will be unable to report a missing bin during this action, and refunds on council tax can not be provided.

Serco's senior contract manager Grace Waugh said they were 'disappointed' by the decision to take further strike action which has been made while peacekeeping discussions were ongoing.

Speaking on July 23, Waugh said: "We have prioritised refuse and food waste collections and offer our apologies to any residents whose collections have been missed because of this strike action.

"Our frontline teams are working exceptionally hard, often beyond their contracted hours, to minimise disruptions to residents and I would like to personally thank each of them for their continued help and support."

She continued: "Unite has submitted a 10% pay claim in Bexley for 2021 which we believe is out of sync with the current environment.

"We believe the offer we have made, in the context of pay freezes across the public sector and the current economic climate, is a fair and reasonable offer.

"There is a small group of employees - no more than 12 - who have raised individual issues about their pay. We have written to each of them offering our formal apology and will pay them any money they are owed in the next payroll run.

"With regard to the claim we are operating zero hours contracts, we would like to make it clear that Serco do not employ any staff on zero hours contracts in Bexley."

The striking workers are currently holding daily pickets outside the Thames Road refuse depot in Crayford, and Unite say more strike dates could be announced.



Unite regional officer Ruth Hydon said: “Serco is determined by its actions to ensure there is a long hot stinking summer in Bexley.

“While it is was about time that Bexley Council got rid of poor performing Serco and our members can look forward to some improvements in their terms and conditions come October, several issues remain unresolved.

“Our members want an immediate end to pay disparities and many are owed tens of thousands in back pay. We will not let Serco or the council skirt round that fact, or its weaponisation of drug testing, until it can walk away from the contract in autumn.

“Bexley council need to get a handle on this and intervene, otherwise rubbish will continue to pile up on the borough’s streets.”

Bexley Council's Cabinet Member for Places, Cllr Peter Craske said: “Just like Bexley’s residents, we are furious such a vital public service, one which is used by all residents all the time, is being disrupted in this way and prevented from being delivered fully because of actions of a small minority of people. 

"A fundamental part of our new contract is our insistence that staff be paid the London Living Wage, so staff working in this service will receive far bigger pay rises than many other people in Bexley which makes this strike even more baffling.

"We have urged all sides to sit down and discuss the issues, instead of holding our residents and our vital public services hostage in this way.” 

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