South Tyneside Council to halt street recycling collections over the summer amid ongoing bin strike row

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

South Tyneside Council will 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.

As an alternative, bosses will put in place a number of sites across South Tyneside where people can bring recyclable materials, while green garden waste collections will continue as normal. These places will be for recycling only, and they will work alongside the six existing recycling sites that are in place in the area, as well as the Recycling Village at Middlefields, meaning that residents will have to travel in order to recycle.

A spokesperson for South Tyneside Council said: "Its all hands on deck to clear the backlog. The Council signed the Memorandum of Understanding in a bid to provide a period of stability, end action short of strike and get the service back on track.

"The workforce has not held up their side of the agreement and waste collections have continued to be disrupted. This cannot go on. We have heard for some time the frustrations of our residents.

"We do listen and we know this cannot be tolerated any longer. We have tried to engage the workforce to address any concerns. We know there are improvements to make within the service and we have wanted to push on and do the right thing for our staff, but our residents and the communities we serve must come first.

"We need to do everything we can to get crews back to normal duties. We want to thank the public once again for their tolerance of the situation and we hope this no-nonsense approach will address the backlog built up as a result of current working practices and get collections back to normal."

The row between the council and the GMB union representing workers at the council has been ongoing for several months. Last week the GMB trade union warned disruption to services could continue "indefinitely" as it announced a vote on whether to take continuous industrial action.

The new strike ballot will run until June 14, with the union warning this raises the prospect of strikes during the General Election campaign period. Mark Wilson, GMB regional organiser, said: "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."

Last week, GMB Union issued this statement, in response to South Tyneside Council: "GMB Union are shocked and surprised by South Tyneside Councils decision to publicly issue a statement denouncing the workforce for ongoing waste collection problems across the county. Whilst there is an ongoing dispute over bullying and harassment in the service GMB pause planned strike action following discussions with the authority.

"No industrial action of any kind has taken place for weeks. Any ongoing collection issues are down to the mismanagement of the service, mismanagement that the GMB have been highlighting for over a year.

"South Tyneside have had over eight weeks to organise the return to normal working. It is a demonstration of the poor management and leadership of the service that they have both failed to get the service on track whilst also putting out misleading statements."