On the Picket Line

Refuse workers in London strike for pay raise, gain solidarity

By Catharina Tirsén
October 24, 2022

NEWHAM, England — Dozens of bin workers for the London borough of Newham set off from the Asda superstore parking lot here Sept. 29 marching to demand, “Fair pay for refuse workers.” About 80 workers are taking part in the two-week strike.

“The wages for bin workers in Newham is 5,000 pounds [$5,540] per year less than what bin workers are being paid in Tower Hamlets,” Steve Edwards, Unite union regional officer, told marchers before they stepped off. Renters’ organizations say that rents have gone up 81% since 2011, while wages have only gone up 15%. So your demand for 2,300 pounds more is only fair.”

Teachers at the Calverton Primary School nearby joined the protest. They’re on strike after the school’s headmaster took away five of the 10 days the workers can take off if their children are sick or for other family emergencies.

The march ended up at the Newham borough offices. The mayor has refused to meet with the strikers.

“We have just sent 100 pounds to the bank account of your branch,” said Tommy Anderson from the Unite branch in Waltham Forest at the rally. Dag Tirsén from the Communist League forwarded greetings from Phil Pemberton, Unite convenor of the 1,900 port workers on strike in Felixstowe.

Some bin workers have gone back to work after the bosses offered them special “overtime” pay.

“We only want decent pay so we can save up some money and better our lives,” striker Harry Hall, a loader, told the Militant after the rally. “If we don’t get it now, we’ll have to go out again. I would like to convince the workmates that went back that we need to fight and stick together.”