Waste Disposal Industrial Action

South Tyneside Council and GMB have confirmed that disruption to waste services will be paused following positive discussions.

See Planned Strike Action to be Cut Short Following Further Talks

We apologise for any inconvenience caused by disruption to waste collections.


Bin collections in May

  • From Tuesday 28 May (Bins are being collected)
    Put all bins out every day and leave them out until one has been collected.

Residents in Whitburn who have an additional bin as part of a pilot scheme are advised to put out all three bins.

Green waste

Residents should put out their green waste bin and leave it out until it is collected. 


Temporary waste drop-off points

Skips will be provided at nine locations across the Borough for residents to get rid of general waste and recyclable materials.

To help clear the backlog, skips will be available from 9am to 3pm, during the following dates: 

  • from Saturday 1 June to Monday 3 June (inclusive)

The skips will be available at the following locations:

  • Boldon Colliery - car park at The Shack (general waste skip)
  • Hebburn - Hebburn Central car park to the side (general waste skip)
  • Hebburn - Clegwell Community Association, Mountbatten Avenue (one general waste, one recycling waste)
  • Jarrow - Hedworthfield Community Association, Cornhill (pedestrian access ONLY; one general waste skip)
  • South Shields - car park at rear of shops on Centenary Avenue (two general waste skips)
  • South Shields - Chuter Ede Hut, Galsworthy Road, car park opposite flats (not main car park, one general waste skip and one recycling skip)
  • South Shields - One Trinity Green side car park (one general waste skip)
  • South Shields - Winchester Street car park (one general waste skip)
  • Whitburn - car park behind Latimers (one general waste and one recycling skip)

What not to bring

The general waste drop-off points are for bagged domestic household waste only.

Sites are not to be used for:

  • Trade waste
  • Asbestos
  • DIY waste
  • Rubble
  • Medical waste
  • Flammable or hazardous materials
  • Gas bottles
  • Furniture

Skips have to be hand sorted at the Council's transfer station and prohibited materials could endanger the workforce.

Recycling drop-off points

Recycling drop-off points are for the dry mixed recyclable materials that residents would normally dispose of in their blue recycling bins only.

No plastic bags or black sacks will be accepted.

Please empty materials into the skips.

We aim to exchange full skips for empty skips throughout the day until 3pm. If skips are full, don't leave waste at the side. Please return later.

No skips will be left overnight.


Changes at the Recycling Village

We have made changes at the Recycling Village to help minimise the impact of the bin strikes.

We have:

  • Opened more than 2000 new slots per week
  • Doubled the number of visits per month from 4 to 8 for households with cars

Please make sure you cancel your slot if you no longer need it.

Queues may be longer than normal when attending an appointment due to strike action.

Book a slot at the Recycling Village


Reduce waste where possible

Please reduce waste as much as possible and recycle responsibly.

We urge residents to take excess waste to the Recycling Village and / or store non-perishable and recyclable material until your next collection.


Frequently asked questions

Who is taking industrial action?

GMB and Unite trade union members in the Council's waste and recycling collection services are taking industrial action affecting waste collections across South Tyneside.

Aside of strike action, union members have been working short of strike since November 2023 which is contributing to some bins not being collected on residents' scheduled collection days - or at all, due to crews not completing their rounds within the week.

Why have union members taken the decision to strike?

The workforce is wishing to effect a change in management which is unsupported and unjustified having thoroughly investigated workforce concerns.

The original collective grievance, submitted in June 2023, did not include any allegations of bullying and mismanagement. The collective grievance specifically cited finishing on time, size of rounds and said that it sought consistency in the way leave was allocated.

The Council delivered on the promise to conduct an independent investigation as part of its 'Resolving Issues at Work Policy.' This took place in Autumn 2023 and less than one fifth of waste operatives that submitted concerns (10/52) chose to take part in the investigation process.

The findings of the Investigator's report were shared with all Trade Unions representing those involved in the grievance.

This independent investigation formed only one part of the overall report into matters raised. The final report, which is confidential to employees; the unions and the Council, was shared with all parties in January 2024.

The findings of the final report were not challenged. No appeal was pursued.

Industrial action continues despite no evidence of bullying and harassment of the workforce by management. The workforce has made no requests for significant changes to terms and conditions. There are no reasonable grounds for further industrial action or strikes.

There has been a lack of explanation or meaningful communication from GMB. Despite continued and reasonable efforts by the Council to understand their position and their reasons for their about-turn, GMB have simply advised that industrial action will be taken unless managers are removed, despite GMB recognising that the Council cannot under employment law and will not arbitrarily remove people.

Why can't the council effect a change in management?

The Council has thoroughly investigated the concerns raised by waste operatives, internally and independently following HR processes, and there are no grounds for a change in operational management. The strike is completely unjustified.

The Council cannot under employment law and will not arbitrarily remove people. 

What has the council done to bring about an end to the dispute?

Workforce engagement

The Council has made a concerted effort to resolve the dispute through extensive engagement with teams, listening and acting upon concerns, including spending time out on the rounds with some crews, talking directly to them about rounds and hearing first hand some of the day-to-day challenges they face in delivering the service.

In addition, and going forward, the Council will increase its direct communication with crews to avoid any miscommunication from union representatives.

Grievance/ HR

The original collective grievance, submitted in June 2023, did not include any allegations of bullying and mismanagement. The collective grievance specifically cited finishing on time, size of rounds and said that it sought consistency in the way leave was allocated.

The Council delivered on the promise to conduct an independent investigation as part of its 'Resolving Issues at Work Policy.' This took place in Autumn 2023 and less than one fifth of waste operatives that submitted concerns (10/52) chose to take part in the investigation process.

The findings of the Investigator's report were shared with all Trade Unions representing those involved in the grievance.

This independent investigation formed only one part of the overall report into matters raised, aligned to the Council's Resolving Issues at Work Policy. The final report, which is confidential to employees; the unions and the Council, was shared with all parties in January 2024.

The findings of the final report were not challenged. No appeal was pursued.

ACAS

ACAS, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service works with millions of employers and employees every year to improve workplace relationships. It is an independent public body that receives funding from the government.

GMB and Unite unions chose to withdraw from planned engagement with the ACAS conciliation process, scheduled for Tuesday 5 December 2023, despite making a previous commitment and securing a date to take part.

Positive ACAS talks in March 2023 resulted in a detailed action plan being agreed by all trade unions and the workforce to move forward.

The Council has shown its commitment to resolving matters and is already implementing the agreed action plan.

External challenge

The Council invited a Local Government Association/ Association for Public Service Excellence (LGA/APSE) Peer Review team in to evaluate Waste Services in March 2024. The peer review was not an inspection and was a constructive exercise intended to complement the ongoing dialogue with Trade Unions, management and the workforce and provide an understanding for all parties on how other councils operate and share best practice, designed to complement and add value to a council's own performance and improvement focus.

The peers used their experience and knowledge of local government to reflect on the information presented to them by people they met, things they saw and material that they read.

The peer team spoke to around 50 people including a range of council staff and Members. An action plan has been developed involving all stakeholders to include key issues that are being addressed, including:

  • Round rebalancing
  • Replacement of vehicle strategy
  • PPE
  • CCTV policies

The peer team found a committed workforce across all areas of the service. The findings of the LGA/APSE Peer review have been shared with all parties and a full report will be published in due course.

I am a resident. Will my bin be collected during the strike action?

  • From Tuesday 28 May (Bins are being collected)
    Put all bins out every day and leave them out until one has been collected.

Residents are advised to reduce their waste as much as possible and recycle responsibly. We would urge residents to take excess waste to the Recycling Village and / or store non-perishable and recyclable material until their next collection.

Residents in Whitburn who have an additional bin as part of a pilot scheme are advised to put out all three bins, on the weeks that bins are being collected. 

Green waste

Residents should put out their green waste bin and leave it out until it is collected. Collections are continuing as normal (aside from strike days).

My bin has not been collected?

Aside of the full industrial action, operatives have been working short of strike since November 2023. This is impacting on the delivery of services.

Why don't your business continuity plans account for industrial action?

It would be impossible to plan and cost huge amounts of council taxpayers' money to have large numbers of staff on standby in the event of a strike.

What is the Council doing to minimise the impact of the strike on residents and businesses?

Contingency planning has continued to develop as the Council deals with repeated periods of disruption. 

On non-strike weeks, waste crew operatives continue to take action that goes beyond 'short of strike'.

This, coupled with periods of full strike action, is impacting on the overall delivery of services.

Residents are being asked to manage their waste as best they can, to reduce their waste and recycle responsibly.

Book a slot at the Recycling Village (businesses are reminded that they are not able to dispose of their waste at the Recycling Village).

Skips will be provided at nine locations across the Borough for residents to get rid of household waste. They will be available from 9am to 3pm, Saturday 1 to Monday 3 June (inclusive). See full details of skip locations.

What if I do not have access to a car?

We appreciate that not everyone can get to the Recycling Village, or the drop off points, which is why we appeal for people to support each other and help family, friends and neighbours if they can.

Will I get a refund on my Council Tax because my bin has not been collected?

We understand any disruption to bin collections is frustrating.

The Council has a duty to set a balanced budget prior to the financial year. Part of this budget setting process includes setting the Council Tax to cover social care, education, libraries, road maintenance, streetlighting, cleansing, planning and waste collection.

Council Tax is a tax not a service charge. Households legally have to pay their Council Tax even if services are disrupted or if people don't use a certain service.

Can I check my bin calendar online?

The online bin calendar is temporarily disabled due to disruptions caused by ongoing strike action.

As a result of the latest planned actions, the Council is making some changes to scheduled collections in a bid to empty bins impacted by repeated rounds of strike action.

In order to make sure that all areas are treated fairly, a rolling programme of collections is in place. Residents are advised to put out all bins and leave them out until one is collected.

I am a trade waste subscriber. What will happen to Trade Waste Collections?

We ask businesses to bear with us and we will collect commercial waste where we can.

Will excess waste be collected in the week following industrial action?

Please store any excess waste and place it in the bin once it has been emptied when services resume.

Residents also have the option to take any excess waste to the Recycling Village.

Are you expecting more fly-tipping incidents?

We have taken this into consideration and will be extra vigilant over this period. We would ask residents to support us and report any incidents of illegal waste disposal incidents so that action can be taken. Please report any incidents of fly-tipping.

How can I reduce the likelihood of waste attracting vermin throughout the period of industrial action?

South Tyneside Council asks that you reduce waste as much as possible and recycle responsibly.

Flatten or squash as much household waste or recycling as possible, to maximise space in your bin. It may be possible to pool bin space with your neighbour's agreement, for those who routinely create less waste.

We urge residents to take excess waste to the Recycling Village and / or store non-perishable and recyclable material until your next collection.

Please responsibly store all general waste in tied bags within your grey household bin - never put loose food waste straight into the bin, wrapping it will make sure it doesn't stick to the sides of the bin and will help contain any odours. Keeping the lid of the bin closed and storing bins away from fences or walls can help prevent animal access and spillage and reduce risk of vermin.

The Environmental Health Service will investigate complaints about issues harmful to public health on a priority case by case basis.

Why can't the Council bring in agency workers to deliver the services while waste operatives?

The Council is bound by the legislation that protects industrial action. It is fully aware of the legal position and limitations in respect of work undertaken during a period of industrial action.

In July 2022, the law was changed, and it became possible for employers to engage agencies to supply workers to do work which was not being done due to industrial action. This change in the law was challenged by a number of Trade Unions in the High Court and they were successful in having it quashed.

As a result, from 10 August 2023, organisations were once again prohibited from engaging agency workers in this way.

The Council continues to explore all legal options available to minimise the impact of the current industrial action on residents. Residents are assured that any mitigation measures put in place fully comply with the law.

Why can't I get through to Customer Services with my query on bin collections?

The Council's Customer Contact Centre is experiencing high volumes of calls relating to bin collections and the industrial action.

To support staff to deal with other calls, residents with waste-related queries are encouraged to visit the Council's website in the first instance.

Callers are reminded that abuse of staff will not be tolerated.

How should I tidy up any general waste spillage?

If there are any spillages from split general waste bags, please carefully re-bag the waste and return it to your grey bin, take it to the recycling village or store it safely. Do not put loose food or general waste directly in your grey bin - please make sure it is re-bagged.

To reduce the risk of illness from poor hygiene, wear heavy duty protective gloves and use a brush and shovel, and / or a litter picker if possible. Keep your hands away from your mouth and eyes. Wash your hands and forearms thoroughly with soap and warm water as soon as possible.

If needles or syringes are spotted at any stage, do not attempt to move them yourself. Make a note of their location and contact the Council on 0191 427 7000.

Should I leave my bin out?

During periods of industrial action, residents are asked not to present bins for collection. There will be no bin collections.

On weeks where bins are being collected, we please ask residents be mindful of leaving bins on footpaths. This can cause an obstruction for those who are partially sighted, disabled as well as those in wheelchairs or with pushchairs.