Council Calls on GMB to Withdraw Misleading Ballot

Posted by: Natalie Johnson on 06 June 2024 09:31

鶹Ƶ is calling on the GMB to withdraw a ballot to the workforce which is inaccurate and entirely misleading and could result in further strike action unfairly impacting on waste collections across the borough.

The GMB is asking refuse workers in South Tyneside to vote on continuous industrial action.

The strike's ballot paper, shared with the council on 3 June states that the dispute relates to the "unjust suspension of a GMB elected Representative". This is inaccurate and entirely misleading.

The GMB's claims have already been strongly refuted by 鶹Ƶ and it is calling on the GMB to withdraw the ballot which is at odds with the factual position.

Whilst it is correct that a GMB workplace representative has been suspended, pending a HR investigation, this is with regards to serious health and safety concerns. This is completely unconnected in any way with union duties or activities. The GMB's understanding and portrayal of the position is both inaccurate and misleading.

A spokesperson for 鶹Ƶ said: "The situation has become completely untenable, and our residents are suffering due to the actions of the GMB.

"It is totally inappropriate for confidential HR matters to be aired publicly in this way and furthermore be used as a pawn in industrial relations that affect the whole borough.

"The GMB appear to be asking the workforce to make a decision based on misleading information whilst knowing that the Council cannot comment in any detail. The Council must maintain confidentiality for those individuals involved and ensure the integrity of the Council HR processes and procedures, which are designed to protect the employment rights of the workforce, are protected.

"We know there are improvements to make within the service and we want to push on and do the right thing for our staff, for our residents and for the communities we serve. This cannot be achieved whilst the service continues to be disrupted."

An independent investigation into a collective grievance submitted by the crews in June 2023 concluded with the confidential findings shared with all parties in January 2024. The findings were not challenged. No appeal was pursued. There was no evidence of bullying and harassment by management, yet industrial action continued as does the misleading narrative around 'bullying and harassment.'

The Council has been working closely with the workforce to deliver a detailed Action Plan agreed with Trade Unions and in line with a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which was approved and signed by both the Council and GMB. The Council is still committed to these and to implementing a range of improvements in response to feedback from the crews to better support them in their roles.

Currently, crews are only completing around 55 per cent of their weekly rounds, meaning they are almost a week behind because they are not working as normal, despite a commitment to do so and in direct contravention of the MOU.

The Council has raised concerns with GMB about the degree to which they have informed, encouraged, and facilitated the workforce to comply with the MOU, including for example their contribution to working groups that are designed to rebalance the rounds, which has thus far not been adhered to.

Waste operatives are valued employees, and the action plan aims to better support them in their roles. It is vital that all parties engage in the process to work constructively to deliver the plan and resume a full service for residents.

The Council is doing everything it can to resolve issues, to get back to providing a vital service for residents and is looking to the GMB and workforce to do the same.

The Council is calling on the GMB to withdraw the ballot immediately because it is at odds with the factual position. It is unjust, inaccurate, and entirely misleading and further strike action with continues and significant disruption to the people of South Tyneside would be inexcusable.

Last modified: 06 June 2024 09:32