General News

GMB Union suspend strike action during Brighton Pride

Besi Besemar July 25, 2019

GMB Union agrees to suspend planned industrial strike action following agreement for excluded rep to return to work at Hollingdean Cityclean Depot.

GMB have today suspended current strike action notices issued to Brighton and Hove City Council, for industrial action for the period commencing July 29, through to August 6 which would have affected waste and rubbish collection across the city severely affecting Brighton Pride’s finances.

The Union say their decision is as “a sign of good faith”, in light of an agreement by the council to revoke the continued “unfair” exclusion of a GMB Union Representative, Dave Russell, from his workplace at the Hollingdean Cityclean Depot.

The Union claim Mr Russel has been at the centre of anti-trade union behaviour from some council officers.

The full series of one day strikes and ban on overtime, which would have coincided with the City’s Pride festival has now been put on hold. Residents and visitors will now see operatives from Street cleansing, Refuse and Recycling departments not only out keeping Brighton & Hove free from rubbish as normal, but also providing the City with extensive and professional clean up services following the main Pride parade, events and the weekends increased visitor numbers.

Mark Turner
Mark Turner

Mark Turner, GMB B50 Branch secretary said: “The negotiated agreement to return our representative to his workplace and the response that we have been able to suspend the threat of industrial action over the coming weeks has been welcomed by our union’s membership and staff at the Cityclean depot. Especially in that this result comes about despite the Chief Exec’s involvement and not because of it!

“There are still a number of worrying and serious issues in need of addressing, and I’m sure the Brighton & Hove City Councils management team will think so as well. However, with both further meetings over the coming weeks planned and the commencement of the any agreed independent review we hope that matters might now take a turn for the better and flush out those opposed to a good industrial relationship within the paid service with regard to the GMB union.

“This was, to be clear, never about seeking to single out and affecting the City’s Pride celebrations, and our members and their families are looking forward to attending and taking part in both the parade and festivities over the weekend just like thousands of others.

“The power to resolve the issue was always firstly in the hands of the council, they’ve taken that step and we have equally responded, they just now need to follow up on that commitment. Let’s hope they do!”

Gary Palmer
Gary Palmer

Gary Palmer, GMB Regional Organiser added: “It’s certainly too early yet to think this dispute is completely over and there are still red lines as far as the GMB are concerned outstanding along with the need to understand and address the reason behind the potential anti-trade union behaviour against the GMB from within the council organisation by some officers led by CEO Geoff Raw.

“The planned independent review which GMB hope is to look into matters such as the CEO’s offer to affect the outcome of a disciplinary hearing, in exchange for the permanent exclusion of a GMB rep from the depot, and his part in the farce around the near loss of the City’s operator licence will, the GMB hope, support our serious concerns which we feel warrants intervention by all of the City’s political leadership in the fact the CEO has acted unprofessionally and at times been in dereliction of his duties as leader of the paid service in Brighton.

“However, the tentative agreement to return our Rep to the depot by the Council’s officers, which we will monitor closely over the coming weeks to ensure that the CEO doesn’t once again change his mind and seek to re-introduce any exclusion, did, the GMB felt, warrant an immediate suspension of the possible threat of industrial action in good faith.

“Members will be providing the usual excellent service on behalf of the council and look to clean up the City over the very busy Pride weekend and beyond, unless Geoff Raw takes up an interfering hand again.

“Perhaps a negotiated settlement is still possible and modifications to working relations both side’s might wish to see, can be implemented meaning industrial relations can change going forward.”

A council spokesperson said: “We welcome the GMB’s decision to suspend strike action and are pleased there will be no disruption to the clean-up of rubbish during and after Pride.

“We look forwarded to continuing the discussions about our relationship with GMB.”

A spokesperson for Brighton & Hove Pride, added: “We are very happy to hear that the proposed GMB Union strike that was planned to coincide with Brighton & Hove Pride has been called off.

“Whilst we always independently manage, facilitate and cleanse all of our official event sites and their immediate surrounding areas; the contingency plans we had in place mean that Pride have booked and paid for additional, enhanced cleaning provision at our own expense and these will remain in operation over the weekend.

“This means there will be increased cleansing on the official Pride LGBTQ+ Community Parade, our main fundraising events, Pride in the Park and LoveBN1Fest at Preston Park, Pride Pleasure Gardens on the Old Steine and the Pride Village Party in Kemp Town. We will provide additional bins, litter pickers, road sweeping machines and jet washing for these sites.

“Pride do not run any events on the beach and with numerous, unaffiliated events run by independent businesses across the City; we would like to appeal to all businesses to engage with our City Angels campaign. Pride are also sponsoring a beach clean, working with Oceans 8 Brighton on The Big Pride Beach Clean on Sunday, August 4.

“We have the utmost respect and are grateful for the work Cityclean do over the Pride period – and what is already a busy summer weekend. We look forward to welcoming GMB members and workers from Cityclean on the Brighton & Hove Pride LGBTQ+ Community Parade on Saturday, August 3.”