A statement by striking binmen in Brighton, regarding well-intentioned 'community clean-ups' during the strike.
This is a message/statement to all those people who have been organising clean ups and/or picking up litter. We have been overwhelmed with messages from people who have been doing this and thinking it means they are being supportive. Whilst we appreciate your well-intentioned sentiments, and efforts to help our communities be clean, we feel like we need to explain how this is actually the opposite of being supportive.
A strike is used when all other methods (e.g. negotiations etc.) have failed. It is the last resort, and means that workers democratically and collectively decide to withdraw their labour (this means workers do not get paid and do not work) in order to pressure their employer to give in to their demands. With something as emotive as rubbish, we recognise that this can mean we are potentially in a strong position, as us not working is instantly noticeable and inconvenient and disruptive for people. This puts even more pressure on the employer and hopefully makes them more willing to negotiate, and change/withdraw what they are proposing. This is the whole purpose and aim of a strike. Any attempts to lessen the impact of a strike completely undermines our action. (Also, refuse collection and street cleaning can be a dirty and dangerous job. We receive training and adequate protective equipment to enable us to do this safely and we certainly do not want any residents to be injured by carrying out our work for free.)
We wholly recognise that Brighton is not a pleasant place to be at the moment, and we apologise to all residents for the state of our city and for the inconvenience caused to you by this disruption. However, please remember that we are residents here too, and we also would like to live in a clean city and return to doing our work as soon as possible to make this the case. But the council are threatening to cut our take home pay by a substantial amount of money and we feel this is the only course of action left available to us to defend our wages. Therefore, if you would like to support us, the best thing you can do is to support us in our action - which means not carrying out the work that we would normally do. This will add to the pressure on the council to withdraw their threats to cut our pay. Hopefully then the strike can be over as soon as possible - which is the thing we can all agree that we all want - and we can return to our jobs and get working on getting our city cleaned up again. Thank you for your support.