SUEZ Workers To Strike At Doncaster Waste Transfer Station [UPDATED]

strike-suez-doncasterOver 130 members of Unite working at the Doncaster waste transfer station will be taking part in a one-day strike this coming Monday, 12 December.

According to Unite, the day of industrial action is over a “draconian” management style and a “derisory” pay offer from employer SUEZ that will leave workers 30 pence an hour worse off in real terms, it says.

SUEZ, however, in a statement, refuted this claim, labeling its offer as “generous”.

The one-day stoppage by the workers follows a 98% vote in favour strike action on a turnout of 94%.

“The bullying mentality of management cannot be allowed to fester. We urge the company to get around the negotiating table to meaningfully negotiate a solution which meets our members’ concerns and restores dignity and respect to the workplace.”

Unite says workers have grown angry over management’s increasingly “hard line” attitude, resulting in workers not being allowed to take any holidays since August and a number of “trumped up” unfair dismissals, which they fear is a prelude to potential redundancies.

Commenting, Unite regional officer, Shane Sweeting, said: “We had hoped that we could have avoided a strike and the inevitable disruption it will bring through recent talks at the conciliation service Acas.

“Sadly management was not willing listen and instead seem hell bent on continuing with its bullying ‘draconian’ management style and denying people taking time off to go on holiday with their family.

“To add insult to injury bosses have sought to further frustrate workers with a pay offer which will result in some of our members losing 30 pence an hour in real terms because of cuts to their terms and conditions.

“The bullying mentality of management cannot be allowed to fester. We urge the company to get around the negotiating table to meaningfully negotiate a solution which meets our members’ concerns and restores dignity and respect to the workplace.”

SUEZ Statement [UPDATED]

SUEZ said in a statement: “We were incredibly disappointed to learn that Unite members in Doncaster voted to reject our generous pay offer.

“Despite this, SUEZ’s senior management team is carefully considering the result of the ballot and the company will do all it can, within the confines of economic responsibility, to avoid the threatened strike action.”

“However, Unite has made a number of unfounded allegations against SUEZ this week, which must be addressed.”

“Unite claimed that employees at Doncaster have not been able to take holiday since August and this is simply untrue – in fact, SUEZ has actually granted members of staff additional leave during the school holiday periods, as well as allowing normal levels during the rest of the year, so that they can spend time with their families.

Unite has made a number of unfounded allegations against SUEZ this week, which must be addressed.”

“Industrial action is currently proposed over the Christmas period and SUEZ has a responsibility to the residents of Doncaster to ensure that this vital public service is maintained over the Christmas holidays, which typically sees higher than average waste volumes and is a critical time in our service to the Council and local residents. However, we have allowed staff to accrue any and all untaken annual leave into the New Year so that they are at no disadvantage and we do not expect them to work on public holiday days, as many other public service providers will be required to do.

“Unite has also accused SUEZ of “bullying” and of dismissing employees unfairly on “trumped up” charges. The reality behind this accusation is that local Unite members, as one of their terms of negotiation, have asked SUEZ to reinstate a single employee who was dismissed following a serious violation of the company’s health and safety policy. This incident is still subject to an appeal hearing to take place next week and the company’s procedures need to be completed. The Health & Safety breach could have endangered members of the public and safety is SUEZ’s number one priority. It is for this reason that we are not prepared to reinstate the former employee as part of a pay negotiation.  Any decision related to whether the employee is reinstated will be made as part of the normal appeal procedure that the company employs.

“Furthermore, Unite claims that the pay award will leave workers worse off, but we feel that this analysis is simply erroneous. The majority of Doncaster employees will be better off as a result of the deal offered to them and this is a matter of fact.

“There is no culture of bullying in SUEZ and we have listened carefully to local members’ requests and concerns – having proposed a deal which we think is in the interests of both parties. We have a responsibility to the residents of Doncaster to deliver a reliable public service at best value and it is firmly with this responsibility in mind that we have sought to negotiate constructively with Unite.

“Unite has also criticised SUEZ for the lack of meetings and dialogue to discuss the above and other points. Since April 2016, there have been twelve meetings between SUEZ, Unite and representatives. We remain committed and open to constructive dialogue on all matters concerning our staff.”

[UPDATE 13 December]

SUEZ’s board of Directors met last week and agreed a mechanism to meet members’ payment demands, with a revised offer put forward to members. Following a further ballot (Friday 9 December), members rejected this.

SUEZ says that although members accepted the revised pay terms, they have additionally demanded that SUEZ reinstates an employee who was dismissed earlier this year following a disciplinary hearing for a “serious breach of SUEZ’s health and safety policy”, the company says, which could have “endangered members of the public”.

The employee in question appealed this decision and the outcome of the appeal hearing is expected tomorrow (December 14).

“The outcome of this appeal hearing cannot and will not be influenced by a pay negotiation with members, but this seems to be the point on which members intend to strike,” SUEZ said in a statement.

Union members are also unhappy that SUEZ placed restrictions on annual leave over the December holiday period in order to “ensure that the vital service to residents is maintained – at a time of higher than average waste volumes”. However, SUEZ does not require any staff to work on public holidays it says and, as part of these negotiations, SUEZ has allowed staff to accrue all untaken annual leave into the New Year so that those who still have leave to take are not disadvantaged by this.

 

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