Sandwell bins will be collected this Christmas as deal ends strike action

The long-running strike by Sandwell refuse workers has ended after Serco promised them a pay rise and better conditions, a union has said.

Refuge workers protesting outside Serco's Shidas Lane depot, Oldbury
Refuge workers protesting outside Serco's Shidas Lane depot, Oldbury

Householders across the borough were facing 12 days over the festive period with rubbish going uncollected but the two sides have struck a deal to avert strike action.

More than 90 per cent of GMB union workers voted to accept Serco's offer after the firm, which is contracted to run waste services by Sandwell Council, promised to clean up its Oldbury Household Recycling Centre.

The deal also included a pay rise and moving agency workers onto permanent contracts.

Justine Jones, GMB organiser said: "This is a stunning victory for the public and for our members. We’ve won the fight to keep people safe and secured new permanent jobs just in time for Christmas – all whilst avoiding disruption in the festive period.

"Thanks to the people of Sandwell for their hearty support and to the workers who stood firm for each other."

Serco also assured workers that bullying and harassment will not be tolerated in any form and will be dealt with.

Katy Bassett, regional director for Serco Environmental Services said, “We are pleased that the GMB have agreed to call an end to this industrial action. Recent discussions with the unions have been productive, we have reach a pay settlement as well as collectively agreeing to conduct a benchmarking and operational efficiently exercise, for the benefit of our staff and residents.”

The industrial action stretches back to the summer when workers voted for industrial action after relations worsened with Serco.

Each day's industrial action would see nearly 80,000 people go without their weekly rubbish collection. The opposing sides had previously gone to mediation service ACAS but talks repeatedly broke down.

A Sandwell Council spokesperson said: “We are pleased that Serco have resolved matters and the council will continue to work with its partners to ensure that services to residents are delivered in a consistent manner.”

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