On the Picket Line

UK refuse workers win strike, strengthen their union

By Hugo Wils
December 25, 2023

WARRINGTON, England — Refuse workers here returned to work Dec. 8 after their two-month-long strike won significant gains. “All 19 temporary workers on nine-month contracts are given permanent contracts, with their new contract backdated to when they started in March, so they have already worked through their probation,” wagon driver and Unite union Branch Secretary Stefan Thorpe told the Militant.

The union also won a “dispute resolution” payment and improvements to workers’ pay and conditions. “When we presented the offer to the pickets, workers started to congratulate one another. We voted unanimously to accept it. The union has been strengthened by this fight,” Thorpe said.

“This result was made possible by the absolute unity of our members,” Unite General Secretary Sharon Graham said in a press release. “By standing together and taking industrial action, they ensured the council made a much-improved offer.”

The Labour Party-dominated Warrington Borough Council went to court to try and force an end to the strike with a court injunction, but the judge declined to do so. This, and the strikers’ determination, forced the council to give in to the union’s demands.