Sandwell bin crews going on strike over bullying claims

Bin crews in Sandwell are going on strike amid allegations of bullying - with fears residents will be impacted by the industrial action.

GMB Union says Serco workers have been sacked and threatened by the company's management.

Serco is contracted by Sandwell Council to carry out waste collection services in the borough.

GMB Union, which represents Serco workers, said 98 per cent of its members voted to carry out a strike ballot.

A spokesman for Serco refuted the bullying allegations and said it is speaking with GMB to discuss the concerns.

The union said disabled workers who shielded during the pandemic were sacked and other employees were threatened for speaking out about safety issues.

West Bromwich East MP Nicola Richards branded the claims "deeply concerning" but believes strike actions is "not the way forward" as bins may not be collected on time.

Justine Jones, GMB regional organiser, said: "Serco are showing their nasty side to the world once again, threatening members who raise safety concerns and trying to bully their way to profit.

"They don’t understand, you can’t beat solidarity with cruelty, and our members are in this fight to win.

"Nobody goes to work to get bullied, injured or abused. We won’t stop until the culture changes."

In response to the strike action, the Serco spokesman said: "We recognise the work of our team delivering an important service for the residents of Sandwell during the pandemic.

"The decision by the union to hold a ballot is disappointing and we refute the specific allegations being made.

"We are in continuing dialogue with the GMB and will continue to discuss their concerns."

Reacting to the announcement of strike action, Ms Richards said: "The allegations of bullying at Serco are deeply concerning.

"But strike action is definitely not the way forward.

"Councils across the UK manage to pick up the bins time on time. But Sandwell can’t seem to figure it out.

"And their disastrous management of the Serco contract is going to lead to yet more misery for local residents.

"I implore the council and the GMB to get around the table and sort this out before we see the scenes that we saw in Labour-controlled Birmingham in 2018 on the streets of West Bromwich, Great Barr and Wednesbury."

Councillor David Fisher, leader of the Conservative opposition in Labour-controlled Sandwell, said: "This news is a huge slap in the face to local residents.

"We already have issues with litter and dog bins overflowing across our borough. And now we could see bin strikes.

"It feels like we’ve gone back to the 1970s."

A Sandwell Council spokesman added: "This is a matter for Serco to resolve with their employees, however we will continue to work with our partners at Serco and hope that they can work with their employees and the trade union to resolve these matters quickly without disruption to our residents."

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