Planned South Tyneside bin strike over General Election week 'halted' as GMB talks continue

Rubbish being collected from one of South Tyneside Council's temporary waste drop-off points in South Shields.
-Credit: (Image: Chronicle Live)

Planned bin strike action that was to take place over General Election week in South Tyneside has been "stood down".

South Tyneside Council and GMB Trade Union have announced steps to bring an end to industrial action that has disrupted waste collections for almost nine months. The council says GMB has agreed that strike action proposed for next week - commencing July 2 - will be stood down amid ongoing talks.

Residents are being advised to continue to put their grey household bin out every day until it is collected, with the council saying it aims to move back to a normal collection pattern as soon as possible.

A spokesperson for South Tyneside Council said: “By working together, and through open dialogue, we have managed to halt the action planned for next week. Discussions will continue, with a view to step down all strike action proposed for July. We know that residents will feel that we have been here before, only a few months ago in fact, but they can be reassured that the council is, and always has been, determined to provide this vital service to residents. We have never stepped away from dialogue and have done everything we can to reach the agreement we have in place today.

“Now that strike action has been stood down for next week, including any action short of strike, we will move to deliver on an agreed set of actions with the shared ambition to bring about an end to the dispute once and for all. Whilst this has been a lengthy and protracted process, it is important that the workforce came forward and have been heard. We have gone to great lengths to engage with and listen to their concerns and to address them.

“We’ve got an action plan that gives all parties a constructive way forward and we are already delivering on key areas like re-balancing the collections routes, improving PPE, increased engagement and improved communication. We are confident that everyone is on board to implement the improvements to the service and the working conditions that the workforce has asked for."

The council added: “Of course, we acknowledge and understand the disruption the industrial action has caused, and we thank everyone for their patience during what has been a challenging period for the borough. It will take some weeks to work through the waste backlog and hope to have that period of stability to restore the service. We thank the workforce in advance for their efforts to get collection patterns back on track.”

Although GMB has two dispute ballots in place, one that runs to October 2024 and a second in place until December 2024, it is anticipated that no further strike dates or action short of strike will take place on those mandates. It is expected that GMB will be engaging with its members with a view to any further industrial action.

Earlier this month, the council said they would not collect recycling bins from homes over the summer period amid the ongoing bin strike row. The council will just be collecting grey domestic waste bins.

On June 5, refuse workers in South Tyneside started a vote on continuous industrial action, with the ballot closing on June 14.

Mark Wilson, GMB regional organiser, said at the time: Refuse workers in South Tyneside are at the end of their tether. This situation should have been sorted nine months ago. We are in this situation because council management thought suspending workers was a better idea than listening to their concerns. A blatant case of trade union victimisation. Any future disruption is entirely their doing. And is within their power to stop.”

The council has doubled the number of recycling sites for dry recyclable materials. The Recycling Village at Middlefields Industrial Estate has 650 slots available every day. To book a slot at the Recycling Village go here. Residents are asked to cancel their booking if not needed to free them up for someone else. Residents with waste related queries are encouraged to visit the council's website.