A TWO-WEEK bin strike in Bexley will go ahead as more than 100 employees are set to walk out.   

Unite members, who are employed by Bexley Council contractor Countrystyle Recycling, voted in favour of an industrial action following disputes over pay and working conditions. 

As a result of this, the strikes will go ahead tomorrow (July 12) until July 24. 

The industrial action will only affect a certain number of bin collection services within the borough. 

So, which bin services will be affected? 

Suspended collections and services include: 

  • Paper and cardboard recycling (blue lidded bin) 
  • Plastics, glass, cans, and carton recycling (white lidded bin) 
  • Garden waste (brown wheeled bin) 
  • Box service - paper, cardboard, plastics, glass, cans and cartons 
  • Gully cleansing ​ 

However, the following services will continue as normal: 

  • General refuse waste (green bin) 
  • Food collections (brown bin) 
  • Box service - refuse and food waste 
  • Assisted collections - refuse and food waste collections will continue as normal 
  • Street cleansing

Here’s everything you need to know:  

Should I still put my bins out for collection? 

Bexley Council has said that for those services that are running, to place your bins out for collection by 5am on your scheduled day as normal but do not leave your bins out for collections that are temporarily suspended. 

What can I do with my extra waste and recycling?  

You can make more room in your recycled wheeled bins by breaking down your cardboard and squashing your plastic bottles, pots, tubs, and trays.  

Once your recycling bins are full you can store any excess recycling in clear or white sacks.  

You can also take your recycling to a recycling centre within the borough. 

What should I do if the recycling banks are full?  

If the recycling bins at a local recycling site are full, please take your recycling home with you or take it to another site. 

Please do not leave your rubbish next to full recycling banks.  

Bexley Council will visit the local recycling sites around the borough every day to collect waste and recycling that locals leave.  

Will collect extra waste be collected when employees return to work?  

When collections resume, Bexley Council will collect side waste for a time to help clear the materials that may have built up.  

During the industrial action, the council will be unable to collect any extra or ‘side’ waste. 

Can I make a complaint about the service?  

During the industrial action, Bexley Council is unable to respond to individual complaints about recycling and waste services.  

The Local Government Ombudsman will not deal with any complaints related to industrial action and residents will not be able to log a formal complaint which has resulted from the industrial action. 

Will I get a refund for the missed garden waste collections I have paid for?  

Bexley Council will extend your garden waste contract when a collection has been missed due to strike action.  

If you have signed up for the service, the council will contact you once the strike is over.  

There is no right to a refund because of industrial action. 

Will this mean we pay more in Council Tax?  

No. The industrial action and settlement are a matter between the contractor, Countrystyle Recycling, and its employees. 

The union Unite has said that Countrystyle offered workers “a below-inflation pay deal” and also wants to scrap a long-standing "job and finish" clause in their contracts. 

Countrystyle Recycling took over the London Borough of Bexley’s Street Services contract on October 4, 2021.  

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Countrystyle’s tactics and refusal to put forward a cost-of-living pay rise leave our members with no choice but to strike. 

“Bexley council should be ashamed of the mistreatment going on at one of their contractors.

 “A better deal needs to be put forward, or these strikes will go ahead with Unite’s full support.”

Unite regional officer Tabusam Ahmed said: “Our members are rightly asking for a pay rise that keeps up with rocketing prices. 

"In response, Countrystyle is trying to punish them by scrapping a long-standing agreement.

“This dispute can end before strikes begin but it will mean Countrystyle treating these workers with decency and tabling an offer our members can accept.

"If the company refuses to do this, Bexley Council should make them.”

Countrystyle’s Compliance Director, Stuart Butler-Gallie, said: “Countrystyle believes that its offer of an eight per cent pay rise for 2022 is fair, reasonable and sensible in the current economic climate where every company needs to act responsibly to avoid fuelling wage inflation, whilst recognising the challenges that its staff face through the squeeze on living standards.

“Countrystyle strongly rejects any suggestion that it has bullied any staff.

“Countrystyle is entitled to issue reasonable management instructions to ensure that it delivers an efficient and quality service to the residents of Bexley.

“This is not about scrapping employees’ contractual rights, it is about a modern interpretation of working together to deliver the service”.

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