12:20PM, Friday 27 April 2018
A ‘stench in Slough’ has been threatened by borough binmen, who are threatening to strike over a rubbish collector embroiled in a row over lunch breaks.
Peter Nolan, a Unite union senior steward, has been suspended from work on charges of undermining Slough Borough Council’s (SBC) refuse collection service.
Unite says the suspension occurred after management put pressure on its bin collectors not to return to the depot for lunch and to eat on the road in unsanitary conditions. However SBC says Mr Nolan’s suspension resulted from allegations of harassment and bullying from several members of council staff.
Unite regional officer Bob Middleton said: “Unite is not going to allow our steward to be dismissed on trumped-up charges.
“Peter Nolan’s only crime is to stand up for his workforce, to ensure existing agreements are not undermined and that workers are not coerced into taking their breaks in dirty conditions which will make them ill.
“If our members take strike action this summer there is likely to be a stench in Slough entirely of the council’s own making.
“Residents worried that their bins won’t be emptied should be angry with the council for creating this mess. I have tried to meet James Swindlehurst, the leader of the council, to resolve this dispute but he has refused to meet me.”
A consultative ballot of Unite members employed by Slough’s environmental services has already given their backing to the union moving to a formal strike ballot if the council dismisses Mr Nolan.
Strike action could begin as early as late May and any action would inevitably lead to residents’ bins being uncollected.
A council spokeswoman called suspension ‘a neutral act’ which ensures investigations are unconstrained.
She added: “We will not pre-empt the hearing next week nor will our actions and investigation be affected by threats of strike action.
“The vast majority of our environmental services workforce do not belong to the Unite union and we are confident, should strike action go ahead, we can continue to provide the usual bin collection service for our residents.”
Mr Nolan’s hearing is on Tuesday, May 1.
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