Wealden District Council
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Waste collection and street cleansing industrial action FAQs

Members of the GMB union working for the Council’s waste and street cleansing contractor, Biffa, have voted to take industrial action.

The industrial action is regarding pay.

During strike action there are legal restrictions on what can be done to cover the work of people who are on strike. As the employer, Biffa are not permitted to cover their work using agency staff, for example.

The extent of disruption may vary daily. Biffa are working to minimise any disruption to services, but it is likely that some collection and street cleansing services will be affected.  Priority will be given to rubbish collections.  Garden waste collections will also be maintained if sufficient resources are available followed by recycling collections.

No. Clinical waste and sharps box collection services will not be affected.

No. Bulky waste collection services will not be affected.

Daily updates will be published on our website at www.wealden.gov.uk We will also provide regular updates on our social media channels Twitter and Facebook. A weekly update will be included on our e-newsletter, MyAlerts, emailed to subscribers each Friday.  To subscribe to receive MyAlerts enter My Alerts into the search bar on our website home page and follow the links.

Please put your bin out as normal on the scheduled collection day however, if it is not emptied please leave it in place for three working days as efforts are being made to catch up on missed rubbish collections.  If its remains uncollected after this, please bring it back in as we regret we will not be able to return to the missed bin until the next scheduled collection day.

If your bin has not been emptied on your usual collection day, please leave it in place for three working days as efforts are being made to catch up on missed rubbish collections.  

If its remains uncollected after this, please take it back in.

Although in our update on the website at the beginning of each day we can confirm which services are operating in part or in full, regrettably we cannot guarantee that every bin scheduled to be emptied on those services on that day will be done.  During the day issues may affect the ability of some crews to complete their rounds. For example, some rounds may have been delayed leaving the depot by a picket line blocking the exit while others may have fewer crew than normal due to the numbers of staff on strike. We would assure you that where collection rounds are operating the crews are making every effort possible to complete their daily work but that on some occasions this is just not achievable.

Yes. When collections resume, we will for a short period of time collect side waste to help clear the backlog. For extra recycling, please place it in non-black bags beside the bin. Please ensure recycling has been rinsed clean so that it is free from any remains of food or drink.

No. Rubbish bins are only for non-recyclable household waste. If they contain recycling or garden waste, they will not be emptied.

Yes, the four tips (Household Waste Recycling Sites) in Wealden run by East Sussex County Council are open as usual. Please check their website for locations, opening hours and site restrictions. https://new.eastsussex.gov.uk/

Please note, for recycling waste some items may need to be separated into individual containers at the tip.

We are unable to offer a Council Tax refund in response to the industrial action.
Only 9% of Council Tax collected by Wealden District Council is retained by the Council, with the remainder being collected on behalf of East Sussex County Council, Town and Parish Councils, the Office of the Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner and East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service.
Council Tax retained by Wealden District Council is used to provide a wide range of services, with waste services only making up a small proportion of the total sum. We appreciate that it is frustrating that services have been affected but please continue to pay your Council Tax bill as usual.

Whilst we are working hard with Biffa to maintain garden waste collections, should it be necessary to temporarily suspend the service a refund will not be available for missed collections. The Terms and Conditions for the service state that “The Council will not be obliged to provide the service if it is prevented from doing so due to circumstances beyond its reasonable control.”

The Local Government Ombudsman does not investigate complaints from members of the public about issues which arise as a result of industrial action. This is because these are issues which affect everyone in the Councils’ area, they are not individual service failures caused by something that the Councils have done wrong or failed to do.
As the strike is affecting all properties across Wealden District Council, we are unable to respond to individual complaints through our formal process.

Yes. Some street cleansing services may be affected.  However, emptying of dog waste and litter bins will be maintained as frequently as possible. 

We are very sorry for any disruption or inconvenience the strike may cause to our residents. To minimise the impact, we kindly ask that you:

  • Double bag any refuse that does not fit in your bin.
  • If you can, store it in a shed or garage or somewhere not open to disturbance from wildlife.
  • Compress your recycling (squash plastic bottles and cans etc) and where possible store it indoors.
  • If you use a bin store please also double bag your waste and place it in the available bins wherever possible. We will make every effort to prioritise collections from communal bin stores during the strike when resources are available.
  • Please do not phone us with questions about the strike. Our customer service team are busy helping people across a range of services. The most up to date information is available on our website.

Yes. Biffa will be ensuring litter bins and dog waste bins are emptied although it is likely this may be less frequent than currently happens.  During this time please take your litter and dog waste home with you wherever possible.

No. Biffa’s commercial waste service is not involved in the industrial action.

Biffa have informed us that the GMB union has issued notification of their intention to extend the strike action up to the 28th May 2022. 

Whilst we remain hopeful Biffa and the GMB union are able to reach a settlement before this date and bring the strike to an end sooner, disappointingly the GMB union have rejected the latest increased pay offer from Biffa, despite members of the Unison union accepting. The offer was to pay the staff in Wealden the same as those working in Rother & Hastings.

As it is a joint contract between Wealden, Rother & Hastings Councils, that seemed a fair approach. This is also the same offer which was accepted by the GMB union and its members in Hastings and Rother only a few weeks ago. At that time, the GMB described the settlement as a “whopping pay deal” as it saw pay increases of between 8% and 20% for all the staff in those areas. By comparison, the pay award for nurses for 2022 is expected to be up to 3% and State pensions are to increase by just 3.1%. 

It is also disappointing that the GMB has announced its intention to prevent Biffa from providing services to domestic households in Wealden with a GMB union regional officer stating “we mustn’t start negotiating until the rubbish piles up in the streets.”

We believe our residents deserve to know this to take an informed view on the merits of the industrial action and, whether the strike is being extended unnecessarily by the GMB union.

Yes but we would recommend you ensure any third-party collecting your waste is disposing of it responsibly by:

  • Check the operator has a valid Waste Carriers Licence using the Environment Agency’s Register of Waste Carriers  or by calling 03708 506 506.
  • Ask to see their Waste Carrier’s Licence, this will usually be an A4 sheet of paper or a credit card licence and will have the Environment Agency logo on it.
  • Ask for and retain a receipt which contain details of their business.
  • Remember, don’t necessarily go with the lowest price. If it sounds too cheap to be true, it probably is.

For more information on your duty of care when disposing of rubbish, click here  Householder Rubbish Disposal – Your Duty – Wealden District Council – Wealden District Council

Please note the Council will not be able to refund any costs incurred using third-party waste collection operators.

There are some simple measures that can be taken to help prevent flies getting into your bin and laying eggs.  Please visit our Wheelie Bin Hygiene Tips page for further information.