Adrian Kennett

Hull's recycling workers won't back down

Adrian Kennett

HULL CITY Unison members have recently staged their second strike, walking out for two weeks from the 29th March over the second class treatment meted out by their multinational employer, FCC Environment. The workers have now voted overwhelmingly to strike for a further fortnight, probably from the end of April.

The company, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Madrid-based Fomento de Construcciones y Contrata, has refused to  pay  front-line  workers  at  the Wilmington waste transfer plant more than the  national  minimum  wage. Meanwhile, managers receive full occupational sickness benefits at the same time as denying them to workers who deal with hazardous substances. To date the employer is refusing to engage with Unison and has suspended two union members after the first round of strike action on trumped-up health and safety allegations.

The Unison members are in a David v Goliath struggle, but drew heart recently when yet again refuse workers for Hull City Council and the East Riding refused to break their picket in a show of solidarity, which has had an impact on refuse collection in the city.

The strike has had overwhelming support from the public, MPs, local Labour councillors, Unison and other trade union branches, and trades councils. This fight will not, however,  be won overnight. FCC have openly stated that they cannot afford to  give sick pay to workers in Hull  since making concessions to our members risks opening the floodgates, with workers across the  company  pressing  to obtain the same occupational sick  pay arrangements as currently enjoyed by management.

This frank admission again highlights why the dispute is so important nationally: it’s an unusual  opportunity to send a clear message both to companies that profit from public sector contracts – and to the councils that procure them – that working people should not and will not be forced to sacrifice basic rights in the name of corporate profits and shareholder dividends.

The Hull City branch is urging Unison and other trade union branches to recruit, organise and ballot members suffering a similar injustice for strike action and demand that these contracts are brought back in-house.

  • Please make cheque payable to Unison Hull City and send to: Hull City Unison, Town Hall Chambers, 39 Alfred Gelder Street, Hull, HU1 2AG.

branch secretary, Hull City Unison