Strike action threatened by waste collection workers in Central Bedfordshire

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GMB London, representing members employed by FCC Environment contracted to provide waste disposal services for the residents of Central Bedfordshire, has been met with contempt during pay and conditions talks with the employer.

Since the £188 million waste services contract was awarded to FCC, the service to residents previously provided by Biffa, has deteriorated, as have the pay and terms and conditions for FCC employees working as drivers, loaders and street cleaners within waste and recycling services, says GMB London.

GMB submitted a pay claim on behalf of our members in March 2020 for the Real Living Wage for loaders and sweepers on minimum wage. FFC finally got back to GMB in October with an offer of 1.5%, but disappointingly backdated it from August, refusing to backdate to April, the normal pay anniversary. This is the real reason for FCC’s problems collecting waste and recycling, not a shortage of HGV drivers, the excuse FCC has given to the council and residents.

Richard Owen, GMB London Region Organiser said:

“Although the HGV drivers have recently benefitted from an uplift in pay, this has only happened because of the current shortage of HGV drivers nationally, in contrast to the many loaders and street staff leaving in droves because they earn the minimum wage. The company use agency staff paid at higher rates - how can that be right?

“Our members have reported several health and safety issues, including poor toilet facilities, the presence of asbestos, unsuitable vehicles, unsafe manual handling, lack of risk assessments, as well as accidents and injuries that are not properly processed. Hardly consistent with the health and Safety Policy published on FCC’s website.

“The GMB recognition agreement was TUPE’d over from Biffa, but FCC is in denial of this fact, preferring to maintain a stance of non-union recognition. This doesn’t help our members and it does not help the residents who pay for a service which currently is very poor by comparison.”

GMB call on FCC Environment to be realistic about the situation and offer better pay and conditions to employees in these waste services roles. If FCC refuses to recognise GMB, we will begin a short period of consultation with our members with a view to conducting a ballot for industrial action.


Contact: Richard Owen, GMB London Region Organiser 079 7417 9285