‘Unacceptable’ - Jarrow MP slams South Tyneside Council and hints at further bin strikes

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Kate Osborne, MP for Jarrow, has hit out at South Tyneside Council over ongoing bin strikes - as threat of more strikes looms.

Kate Osborne, the MP for Jarrow, has hinted there could be further bin strikes in South Tyneside as she hit out at the Council in a social media statement.

In response to the MP’s comments, South Tyneside Council has refuted the claims over the ongoing industrial action in the local authority’s waste department.

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A dispute between workers and the Council, which was originally sparked by “bullying” claims, has been ongoing since September 2023.

Strike action was suspended earlier this month after it was announced that a two-week strike period would take place between May 1 and May 14.

It is understood that the Jarrow MP helped to intervene between the trade unions and the Council to allow for the industrial action to be suspended.

However, on Thursday, May 16, Ms Osborne has claimed in a statement on X (formerly Twitter) that the Council has not built on this and instead, has “unfairly” suspended some of the workers.

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The Jarrow MP said: “It is very disappointing that despite my intervention that successfully pushed for the strike to be suspended earlier this month (as agreed by both sides), South Tyneside Council instead of building on this progress have continued to undermine industrial relations and, in my opinion, potentially unfairly suspended some of the workforce including targeting the GMB Trade Union rep.

South Tyneside Council . Photo: South Tyneside Council.South Tyneside Council . Photo: South Tyneside Council.
South Tyneside Council . Photo: South Tyneside Council.

“Understandably the workers are extremely annoyed and let down by this (as am l) and I am told will shortly decide to unsuspend the action and take further strike action imminently.

“This will have a devastating impact on my constituents, some of who still haven't had their bins emptied yet because of the backlog.

“I have spoken to and will be writing to South Tyneside Council's leadership team and the Chief Executive to express just how unacceptable this is.

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“As the employer, the onus is on them to behave in a constructive and reasonable way, not victimise the trade union rep.

“As always the workers have my full support.”

South Tyneside Council has refuted the comments made by the MP, stating that her statement does not “accurately reflect the current situation”.

A spokesperson for South Tyneside Council commented: “We are aware of comments on social media made by Kate Osborne MP for Jarrow.

“It is important that the people of South Tyneside are aware that the MP’s comments do not accurately reflect the current situation.

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“The Council has been working hand in hand with the workforce over recent weeks to deliver the agreed action plan in line with a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which was approved and signed by both the Council and GMB and has been making significant progress to that effect. We continue to push on with this.

“Entirely separate to this, the Council has had no other option but to suspend two members of the waste services team.

“This comes after serious health and safety concerns were raised around vehicle safety. While HR matters are confidential, it would be unacceptable to ignore issues that could endanger both members of the public and our workforce.

Kate Osborne, Member of Parliament for Jarrow.Kate Osborne, Member of Parliament for Jarrow.
Kate Osborne, Member of Parliament for Jarrow.

“Whilst we would not usually comment on such internal processes, we have been moved to provide a comment to give a balanced view to residents. HR processes will now be undertaken quickly, in line with Council procedures and in a manner that is fair to all parties.

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“Public protection is paramount and the consequences of things going wrong with a 26-tonne vehicle out in our communities does not bear thinking about.

“With regards to any plans for further strike action, we have not sought to undermine industrial relations, nor have we undermined the terms of the MOU.

“The GMB recognised that there would be occasions when a more formal stance would need to be taken in disciplinary matters. This is one.

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“We simply will not bow to pressure to ignore such serious concerns with the threat of further industrial action.

“We would hope that the workforce can separate these two matters and continue to work positively with us to deliver a waste collection service for the people of South Tyneside.

“Similarly, we will continue to seek to work constructively with our local MPs following correspondence today and have offered further briefings, as appropriate, in due course.”

A comment from South Tyneside Council on social media has confirmed that crews are still collecting bins and members of the public should continue to put all their bins out until one is collected.

At the time of writing, it is unclear if the Council’s waste department workforce will vote to resume strike action.

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