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Waltham Forest refuse workers' rally

Waltham Forest refuse workers' rally. Photo: Dave Buxton

Outsourced refuse and cleansing workers in Waltham Forest rallied for a pay rise and to be brought back in-house, reports Carole Vincent

Waltham Forest Town Hall was the backdrop for a show of solidarity by Unite and GMB members of the Refuse and Cleansing Team on Thursday.

These workers have been outsourced to private company Arbaser who pay them far less than workers doing the same jobs in neighbouring Boroughs, the drivers, loaders and street cleaners, being the worst paid at around ten pounds an hour.

The protest was organised to coincide with a Cabinet meeting of Labour-controlled LBWF officers.

Impassioned speeches by workers about how they struggle to pay their bills and the sort of things they deal with daily, including unsocial hours starting at 5am were backed up by union reps and organisers, including Willie Howard, Unite the Union organiser, who told of how they have been taken for granted, for too long. 

The workers are demanding a pay rise, in line with their counterparts in Hackney, Newham and Tower Hamlets and want the service to be bought back in-house.

The GMB Membership Officer Michael Dooley made it quite clear that should a deal increasing pay and better conditions not be negotiated with Arbaser and the Council, the members of both unions, will ballot for strike action. 

Support came from East London Unite Community members and other unions.

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