31st October 2023
Industrial action by refuse workers was due to take place in Kingston from the 23rd of October.
Under the outsourced contract, the workers are overstretched, and experiencing low pay and struggling with the cost of living. With ever-increasing work pressures, recruitment and retention is an issue. As a result, residents are suffering from a poor service.
Veolia, who Kingston Council contract to run the service, have not only made nearly billion euros in profits in the last year, but also refuse to pull their business dealings out of Russia.
We supported the workers by calling on the Council to work with the GMB to end these strikes, stand up for the workers and support them in getting fair pay, and a good service for local Kingston residents.
Thank you to the hundreds of residents who signed the petition and supported the workers here.
We hope the Council will take on their duty to hold the contractor to account for failing to deliver the service, and ensure a better service for residents is delivered.
Read our letter to the leader of Kingston Council:
14th October 2023
Dear Cllr Kirsch,
We are writing to you regarding the impending industrial action due to be taken by refuse workers in Kingston from the 23rd of October for two weeks. This will impact locals with rubbish piling up and risks becoming a serious health and safety issue.
Under the outsourced contract, the workers are experiencing low pay, and ever-increasing work pressures as recruitment and retention becomes an issue. Residents feel frustrated by the poor service.
We understand that Veolia, who Kingston Council contract to run the service, have not only made nearly billion euros in profits last year, but also refuse to pull their business dealings out of Russia ignoring sanctions.
Despite this, the Council are having to hand over more public money to cover the feeble pay offer as Veolia claim they can’t afford the pay rise.
Having met with the GMB, we have heard that Veolia have been intimidating workers into not taking strike action.
These are outsourced workers but as the contracting authority, you have over- arching responsibility for the service and those who work within it.
We are asking for the Council to stand up for the workers and support them in getting fair pay, and a good service for local Kingston Residents. We urge you to:
· Enforce the contract by issuing appropriate fines to Veolia during this period for the work that will be missed. We are concerned that a failure to enforce the contract will lead to an extended dispute and residents footing the bill.
· Work to bring the service back in house and end outsourcing, ensuring residents get value for money services and workers get good pay, rather than use public money contributing to dividends of executives of companies ignoring human rights violations. The South London Waste partnership is due to come to an end. Merton Council have already done the costings and have found it will be cheaper to deliver in house.
· Work with the GMB to safeguard workers against mistreatment.
Under a Labour Government, before any service is contracted out, public bodies would have to show the work ‘could not be done better in-house’ and the party would ‘end the scandal of outsourced workers getting second class pay and conditions.
Kezia Coleman, Chair
Greta Farian, Trade Union Liaison Officer
Kingston and Surbiton Constituency Labour Party