Thanet bin collection strike to go ahead in dispute over pay, says GMB union

Waste operatives

GMB union members working for Thanet District Council’s Waste and Recycling collections services will go on strike for two weeks from Tuesday, May 30 in a dispute over pay.

The dispute is based on GMB members claim for pay increases and council banding uplifts which members say would modernise and reflect more accurately the reality of the hard, dirty, and “largely unappreciated good work” they deliver week in week out for Thanet’s district residents.

Gary Palmer GMB Regional Organiser said: “The strike notice covers an initial two weeks walk out, but there are always the possibility further dates are likely to be added until talks aimed at ending the dispute commence and meaningfully progress.

“I’m sorry to say though that the strike is liable to go on for some time as at the moment Mr Carmichael (Thanet council chief executive) is simply sitting back insisting that party’s not in dispute with the council or even representing the striking workers must be present before he will meet with us to discuss a settlement, something as the representatives of choice for drivers and operatives at the councils waste department we won’t agree to.

“The council we also understand have still not even responded as GMB have to an offer of assistance from ACAS in providing a conciliation service for both sides which might allow talks to commence, so our members are left with no choice but to walk out and not return until Mr Carmichael takes seeking a resolution seriously.”

‘Breaking point’

Frank Macklin GMB Regional Organiser added: “The council’s priority of spending cash on a new hardstanding for the depots vehicles over staff pay sort of sums up what our members are up against in a time of crisis around the cost of living.

“You can only push people so far and our members desire to get what they are long overdue, while hearing those at the top earning decent salary’s pontificate about pay restraints and budget restrictions have forced them up to and past a breaking point.

“On a positive, any walk out could be paused if we had agreement that dates for meaningful talks were in the diary and agreed.”

‘Incredibly disappointed’

However, Thanet council has accused the GMB of having no genuine desire to resolve the dispute and of failing to attend meetings to discuss the issues.

Colin Carmichael (pictured), Chief Executive of Thanet District Council, said: “We are incredibly disappointed that the GMB union has confirmed that its members intend to go on strike. Thanet is one of the councils in Kent and the wider South East region that has been targeted by GMB action, which ultimately risks impacting critical public services.

“Despite ongoing attempts to meet, GMB is refusing to hold discussions with our other recognised trade union which is in breach of our collective bargaining agreement.

“There are 543 members of staff at the council. Of the 59 eligible GMB members, 34 (58%) voted, and of those, 30 (88%) voted for strike action.

“We have contingency plans in place and are doing everything we can to mitigate the impact on our residents.

“We are committed to providing our residents with essential services and our staff play a critical role in enabling us to do this. We recognise the need to support our staff and competitive pay is important for recruitment and retention.

“Some of our lowest paid workers will see rises of up to 11.56% to bring their pay in line with the market rate. We have already applied a market supplement to the salary of the majority of cleansing staff. The supplements are backdated to the beginning of April this year, and lift salaries to a level which is comparable with other organisations offering similar services.

“These market supplements will only be withdrawn after permanent changes to the pay structure have been made. We expect that pay will then remain at a level equivalent to, or higher than, the market supplement currently in place.

“The statements made by GMB representatives don’t reflect the reality of our commitment to our staff. The grievances that have been raised by cleansing staff around pay and the working environment have already been addressed.

“GMB has consistently failed to attend meetings and there doesn’t appear to be a genuine desire to resolve this matter. Our door is always open for constructive conversation and we sincerely hope that a solution can be found without the inconvenience that a strike could bring to our residents.”

Waste and recycling workers with the GMB have also been taking action over pay in areas including Brighton. Strikes in Ashford were called off after an ’11th hour’ deal was reached.


  1. TDC needs to privatise the rubbish collection service. These so called bin men don’t really do their job when they aren’t striking!!

    • I see you don’t remember the awful private service when this was contracted out last time. It was much worse.

    • HAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHA someone hasn’t been paying attention to the sh1tshow when serco took over in canterbury.

  2. Sure, give ’em a pay rise – but make them carry bins back alleys like they used to instead of making us store them in front gardens or on pavements. Oh, and sweep up after you drop anything (I personally recently witnessed a binman drop a rotten cabbage in the kerb and just leave it there, in a road that TDC never sweeps!).

    • I fully agree it happened to me-Alfter they emptied the red bag for card and paper.All over my driveway.

  3. Oh well…one good thing there just might be less litter everywhere.The refuse collectors spill litter as they empty bins.Not one of them owns a broom.Ive even seen them kicking aside litter spilt by themslves and even stepping over it.

  4. Well with Labour Council now in post, they have to engage in negotiations in the very near future to resolve this dispute….
    Will the Union be willing to compromise?

    • Observer your right! Labour Cllr Steve Albon is the elected councillor for rubbish, sorry “Cleansing & Coastal”, so he should be getting his hands dirty on this one. Yes, and can he get the Bin men to stop blocking the pavements after they empty the bins! This is a nightmare for mobility scooters, and young mums with prams!

  5. Has TDC said anything about KCC’s proposals to close the Richborough site which could have a very big effect on the Margate site which will be too small to cope with the excess?

  6. As for members of the public it should be illegal for refuse workers to drop litter without clearing up after themselves. Members of the public are usually fined for dropping litter. What is good for the goose is good for the gander.

    • Tdc are the prosecuting body when it comes to litter offences and it can’t prosecute itself. So no incentive to clear up after themselves. Same when the council had numerous council homes with no valid gas safety cert, they just issued an apology and said lessons learnt.

  7. Ive always said along with the litterbugs, the council create the most litter.Driving into Ramsgate this morning looked more like the drive to the local dump.Nothing like putting off tourists.

  8. It’s about time TDC started paying the same rate as other local councils

    Good luck lads and lasses

  9. Well given the local Labour party have been regularly supporting striking workers over the last year or so I am assuming they will just pay up otherwise that will be a little bit hypocritical won’t it ?

    Or to paraphrase another saying…”What’s the definition of a socialist ? Someone who is an expert at spending other people’s money”

    • Thanetian Blind, does that make someone who is anti socialist, anti-social? The difference between Conservative, and Labour governments is the Tory’s want to give our money to their business friends, and Labour governments should not be! They should be redistributing our money to those who produced it, the workers! So up the workers!

    • Afraid Mr Carmichael couldn’t negotiate his way out of a wet paper bag! We now live in a very changed world. HGV drivers are now greatly in demand and can earn more delivering groceries for Sainsbury’s or ASDA.Bin strikes in Ashford,Coventry and elsewhere resulted in crews getting the rises they demanded. The bin strikes in Brighton did for the Green council there. I hope our new Labour grasps the nettle and negotiates immediately. The old adage that “jaw,jaw is better than war,war” is certainly true in this case.

  10. “……..reflect more accurately the reality of the hard, dirty, and “largely unappreciated good work” they deliver”. Since when do we have to pay for this? What about other jobs – care workers having to clean the elderly who can’t look after themselves? Those who clean public toilets? Hospital cleaners? The list would be endless.

    I was recently at Margate Recycling – four men at the garden waste area – one working hard sweeping in the lower part, the other three just standing around at the upper area. One just sits at entrance to presumably check your number plate to ensure you have a booking. That’s hardly work that justifies a high salary!

    I usually go to the Recycling during the week and it is never busy, so hopefully the closure of Richborough won’t have that much of an impact. I can understand KCC having to make cuts – the money they get from council tax will only go so far; nobody wants to pay higher council tax but everyone wants more for what they do pay. I agree a good place to start would be to review KCC salaries.

  11. Its a strike for more money.

    Got grievances speak to Environment department and port folio holder… Tdc never changes its rubbish run by trash..

  12. With Richborough waste and recycling yard closing and bin men going on strike there will be a lot more fly tipping.
    If Richborough is closing then maybe they could put the travellers there from the ferry port.

  13. As usual both sides are blaming the other, neither according to the other wants to talk, why don’t you just sit down around a table and sort it out and for once the side who is lying about what is going on tell the truth or should you both tell the truth, nobody will win by striking striker’s loose money, we the public get more rubbish strewn across the road and towns as seagulls will have a field day when bins are full it’s bad enough on bin days when they rip bags apart as so many bins are lid less mainly due to lids breaking on/in the wagon ( not blaming bin men) but we have to pay to replace them as council never repair them when it’s the machines fault watched it happen to neighbours bin. You ask council to clean up the street after the bin men have they do arrive but it’s usually blown into people’s gardens as those cleaners are so busy sorting out the fly tipped rubbish.

  14. Typical Labour council.

    You weep what you sow. Suck it up snowflakes, you voted Labour, so you’ve got more of this to come. Including you Dumpton

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