Action Plan Agreed After Positive ACAS Talks

Posted by: Natalie Johnson on 05 April 2024 15:53

South Tyneside Council, GMB and Unite Unions have confirmed that positive discussions have resulted in an action plan and agreed way forward to try and bring an end to industrial action that has disrupted waste collections for the last six months.

The Council and Trade Unions met last week with the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) in an attempt to resolve outstanding issues and bring about an end to industrial action.

ACAS 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.

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 the rebalancing of the rounds and hearing first hand some of the day-to-day challenges they face in delivering the service.

A spokesperson for South Tyneside Council said: "Whilst this has been a lengthy and protracted process, we are pleased that the workforce brought these matters forward. We have gone to great lengths to engage with and listen to their concerns and to address them.

"The action plan gives all parties a constructive way forward and we will now press ahead to deliver it.

"Everyone is on board to bring about the improvements to the service and working conditions that the workforce has asked for, and we will maintain vigilant oversight of the service to maintain the right level of challenge and support. We are hopeful that we can now work with a period of stability, which would lead to us bringing about an end to the dispute.

"Of course, we acknowledge and understand the disruption the industrial action has caused, and we thank everyone for their patience during what has been a challenging period for the Borough."

Significant engagement has resulted in a detailed action plan being coproduced and agreed by all Trade Unions and the workforce.

A spokesperson for GMB and Unite Unions said: "Engagement between the workforce, the Council's Leadership and officers has been positive with a number of issues being addressed so far.

"We entered into ACAS conciliation with the shared ambition to resolve outstanding issues and we are glad that we have been able to do just that with a clear plan that gives us the foundations to move forward positively.

"We are hopeful that, through working differently with the Council, we will be in a position to bring industrial action to an end following a period of stability, engagement, and investment in the service."

In addition to ongoing dialogue, the Council invited a Local Government Association/ Association for Public Service Excellence (LGA/APSE) Peer Review team in to evaluate Waste Services. The peer review was not an inspection and is a constructive exercise intended to complement the ongoing dialogue with Trade Unions and the workforce and provide an understanding for all parties on how other councils operate and share best practice.

The peer team found a committed workforce across all areas of the service and noted a clear commitment from all parties to move forward and put things right. The findings of the LGA/APSE Peer review have been shared with all parties and a full report will be published in due course.

The team noted investment in Middlefields depot with new lockers, changing and drying facilities, and refurbishment of the canteen and office accommodation.

Operatives are due to restart a rolling programme of collections when they return to work next week (Tuesday 9 April).

Residents are advised to present all bins and leave them out until one is collected. This includes green waste bins for those subscribed to the garden waste collection service.

Residents with waste related queries are encouraged to visit the Council's website at in the first instance, where they will find further information including a set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).

Last modified: 08 April 2024 15:07