Gosport facing bin nightmare in New Year with warning of “rubbish on the streets”

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Gosport is facing a bin nightmare in the New Year with a warning there will be “rubbish on the streets” unless an agreement can be reached over pay, a union has warned.

GMB, the union for refuse, recycling and street services, has issued strike ballot notices to Gosport Borough Council’s waste contractor Urbaser Ltd after members’ pay stalled – and has warned they will stand up for “exploited” members if they are “bullied”.

The ballot opens on Monday 13 November and closes on Monday 27 November and, if the members vote to take action, would see a strike at the town’s Wilmott Lane Depot from early January 2024.

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Gosport is facing the possibility of rubbish being left on the  streets in a row over pay. Pic: GMBGosport is facing the possibility of rubbish being left on the  streets in a row over pay. Pic: GMB
Gosport is facing the possibility of rubbish being left on the streets in a row over pay. Pic: GMB

GMB anticipates any action would put a stop to residents’ kerbside collections at a time when household waste is at an annual high, with the additional rubbish from the festive season.

The union is warning the council and their contractor that rubbish on the streets across the borough is to be expected throughout January and on into February if the dispute cannot be settled.

Charlotte Gardner, GMB regional organiser said: “Our members are some of the lowest paid in the waste sector on the south coast and they have had enough of being exploited by a national company intent on making profit off their hard work.

“Let’s remember what they earn, they spend locally - unlike Urbaser. Just like all exploited workers, they can no longer afford to live on what they earn and are simply asking for a fair rate of pay.

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“It’s time for Urbaser to do the right thing and pay the going rate to their workers - £15 per hour for HGV drivers and £12 for all other operatives.

“This is the minimum going rate and as far as our members are concerned, the work in Gosport is just as hard, dirty and dangerous as that being carried out anywhere else.

“If management ignore us, or even worse try to bully or intimidate staff into not standing up for themselves, GMB will not hesitate to support our members through any action until they get what they so thoroughly deserve.”

A statement from Urbaser said: “We have been officially notified by the GMB Union that they are preparing to undertake a strike ballot at our Gosport depot. Urbaser Ltd are committed to providing fair compensation for all our employees. To this end, we continually monitor industry standards and conduct regular reviews of our pay structures.

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“We take the concerns of our employees seriously and fully understand the importance of their contributions to our operations and the communities we serve. We have therefore already made an offer that we consider to be reasonable and aligned with rates paid across the industry, and specifically for the waste sector on the south coast.

“We strongly refute any suggestion of exploitation or intimidation. Our management team will never condone such actions, and we firmly believe in resolving issues through respect, understanding, and collective negotiation.

“It is our intent to engage in open and constructive dialogue with our employees and the GMB union representatives to address these concerns, and we remain hopeful that strike action can be avoided.”

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