South Tyneside bin strikes stood down following 'positive step forward'

Rubbish piling up in the street in South Shields during the South Tyneside bin strikes.
-Credit: (Image: Chronicle Live)

Strike action impacting South Tyneside's waste collection services in July has been called off.

South Tyneside Council confirmed that industrial action planned for the next two weeks (commencing 9 and 16 July) has been stood down amid ongoing discussions with the GMB union. It comes after strike action originally set to take place this week - the first of a three-week period – was also halted.

A series of waste collection strikes have been impacting residents of South Tyneside for the last nine months. The council said it continues to work closely with the workforce to ensure there is no further 'action short of strike' that has impacted waste collections significantly, and the GMB confirmed it will engage its members positively on this.

Stuart Wright, Director of Place and Communities at South Tyneside Council, said: "We appreciate that this has been a long, drawn-out process for all those involved, particularly our residents whose waste collections have been disrupted for so long.

"Providing this essential service is a top priority for us. The Council has been at the table this whole time, engaging with the workforce and Trade Unions and doing everything it can, not only to deliver for residents but to address the concerns of crews and create a better working environment.

"The jointly agreed Action Plan gives all parties a constructive way forward and we are already delivering on key areas such as re-balancing the collection routes, which was a fundamental ask of the crews, as well as providing better PPE, increasing engagement and improving communications. This has been endorsed and acknowledged by the workforce and the GMB.

"It is hoped that this positive step forward will lead an end to the dispute which has seen waste collections disrupted for the past nine months. We appreciate it has been challenging and we thank residents for sticking with us and observing the various changes to collections throughout this entire period."

Residents are asked to present both their grey household and blue recycling bins for collection everyday (Tuesday to Friday), from Tuesday 9 July, as the Council works to move back to normal waste collections patterns over the coming weeks.

Stuart added: "Now that we have some stability, at least for the short to medium term, we will be working hard to get collections back on track as quickly as possible. It will take a few weeks which is why we are asking residents to present their grey household and blue recycling bins at this time. This will give us time to catch up on the waste backlog, stabilise the rounds and work to resume a normal collection pattern."

Stuart Gilhespy, GMB Organiser, said: "Since the start of this dispute, GMB has been calling for an end to the bullying culture. We are pleased South Tyneside has listened and enacted a restructure which has now been accepted by our members."