London refuse workers denied public holiday to mourn the Queen

Download as PDF

“It’s a shameful act of disrespect to our Sovereign and to our members.” GMB London said.

Refuse workers at London Borough of Waltham Forest have been told if they don’t work on the National Day of Mourning, they won’t be paid. These key workers who are usually offered increased rates for Saturday working have been told they must work Saturday without enhanced pay to guarantee a paid day off to pay their respects to the Queen. 

Spanish utility company, Urbaser, who manage the refuse contract for the borough, told GMB members that this will be treated as ‘any other bank holiday’ which they are not automatically entitled to have off work. To add further insult to these Key Workers - there are no toilets open on Monday, due to public holiday.

Urbaser refuse staff who feel pressured to work on this historic day will not have access to any toilet facilities while on shift.

Urbaser have insisted that this National Day of Mourning is to be treated like ‘every other bank holiday’ – where staff receive no additional payment for working and must book it off as annual leave, granted at their manager’s discretion.

Waltham Forest Council Leaders, who have ultimate responsibility for refuse in the borough, have ignored calls to intervene on behalf of those who sweep their streets.

One refuse worker and GMB Union member said:

"I know we do an essential role for the community but it’s wrong of Urbaser management to deny us the time to mark this national moment. In order for us to guarantee the time off we must be willing to do so unpaid. In the middle of this cost-of-living crisis, and after the pandemic – it is disappointing that they won’t afford us the decency to allow us to mark the sad passing of our Queen, with our families, like the rest of the country."

Michael Dooley, GMB London Region Organiser said:

"These contractors never miss an opportunity to squeeze our members dry. The refuse crews are key workers and do an invaluable job. This is no ordinary bank holiday, it’s not a jolly down to Margate. This is a moment of historic relevance and that should be reflected by allowing staff a paid day off to mark it. To deny any of them a public holiday on a National Day of Mourning is downright disrespectful, not only to them – but to the Queen whose passing is a sad and significant national moment. All they can think about is how to make a quick buck for their business, and frankly, it’s a shameful act of disrespect to our Sovereign and to our members."


For more information please contacts: Michael Dooley, GMB London Region Organiser 077 7306 1798


Editors notes:

GMB London - London refuse workers denied public holiday to mourn the Queen

GMB London - Refuse strike brewing at Waltham Forest as pay talks break down