Fact Checker 

Politics is unfortunately home to a lot of misinformation, made up by those that would prefer to be dishonest with the electorate, instead of working hard to achieve great things for South Tyneside.

This page is our fact checker, set up with an aim to get the right information out there and address concerns that matter the most to residents.

Waste Collection Industrial Action

Published 25th March 2024

The current dispute is between South Tyneside Council and Trade Unions of the Waste Collection Team.

Over the course of 6 months, both sides have made numerous statements that can be read below. In summary, The Union’s allege that the Waste Collection Team are bullied and unfairly disciplined by management, which South Tyneside Council disputes.

More than 80 per cent of the workforce are, or have just been on, a formal warning. GMB Union

GMB suggest 80% of the workforce have received a formal warning recently. In 2023 the current figure is that four members from a team of 63 have received a formal warning amounting to 6.3%. South Tyneside Council

An independent HR report was commissioned by the council, these are not normally made public as they are strictly confidential; they consist of interviews and complaints made by employees. No Green Councillors have seen this report, and it’s understood outside of the leadership of the council, only the union representatives have been shown the report in a meeting, but were not allowed a copy of it.

This investigation 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. South Tyneside Council

The union had the opportunity to bring an appeal to the councils Appeal Panel, this panel consists of three elected councillors, with Green Councillor, Andrew Guy, a member of this panel. This would have effectively given the opportunity for the Union’s to bring the dispute to councillors, including the independent report, and ask councillors to overturn the Council’s decision on grievances that the the council has not upheld. Unfortunately, the Appeal was not lodged and therefore this process never commenced. We understand the council provided extra time past the deadline, and the Union’s were offered independent reconciliation via ACAS, three times.

As it currently stands, we understand the only demands made by the Union’s are for two managers to be removed from post. The council state they cannot do this as the claims made by the workers have not been proven, and therefor would be against employment law.

Councillors from all parties have no powers to get involved with this dispute. With employee disputes in any workforce, correct procedures must be carefully followed, and those investigating and making decisions must be impartial. This was one of the alleged reasons why the union did not feel comfortable using the Appeals Panel. Even if councillors did have the power to remove employees from their post, done so without any solid basis would guarantee expensive tribunal claims likely ending in the reinstatement of these employees.

This has placed the Waste Collection of our Borough in the centre of a stalemate, and unfortunately some have taken advantage of this situation for political gain. The council, like any employer can’t remove employees from their jobs from gross misconduct without evidence of wrongdoing. Those suggesting they can do, and councillors are to blame for this not being the case are doing so without an understanding of employment law, or, doing so for dishonest reasons.

Clearly an issue of poor work culture exists within the waste department, whom and why has yet to be seen yet. But we encourage both sides to listen openly and honestly with one and other, and resolve this dispute.

Statements

From the GMB Union:

From the Council:

"Greens have created a £50,000 post for someone to save the planet"

This is incorrect. We believe this stems from our MTFP 2024 to 2029 budget proposal to introduce an additional carbon reduction and biodiversity officer.

The officer would have never been paid £50,000 a year, this was the total budget that would have been required to pay the officer, national insurance, pension contributions, and resources to support this officer.But regardless of salary, this officer would have been tasked with reducing wastage around the council, supporting environmental concerns within Planning/Spacial Strategy, and overall would have been a really good investment; returning more savings than how much this post costs the council tax payer. We make no apology for pushing better resources towards reducing the councils expenditure, maximising investment, and ensuring sound advice is available for decision making within South Tyneside Council to improve the environment we all live in. 

"The Greens are 'in bed with Labour"

Despite what some people might want you to believe, the Greens can be seen in every Borough Council meeting, challenging Labour and holding them to account. The Greens are free to speak their minds and each councillor can vote according to their individual opinions. In practice, this means that sometimes not all members of the Green Group will vote the same way. There are occasions where Green councillors agree with Labour and vote the same way as them. There are also (frequently!) occasions where they don’t.

"The Greens have to toe the national party line"

The Green Party of England and Wales has never instructed councillors in South Tyneside how to act or vote or told them what to speak up or stay quiet about. South Tyneside Green Party has never instructed councillors in South Tyneside how to act or vote or told them what to speak up or stay quiet about. The Leader/Deputy Leader of the Green Group have never instructed councillors in South Tyneside how to act or vote or told them what to speak up or stay quiet about. The Greens are free to speak their minds and each councillor can vote according to their individual opinions.

Email Us: info@southtyneside.greenparty.org.uk

Call us: 07446 258983

National Party Address:

The Green Party

PO Box 78066

London

SE16 9GQ

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Published and promoted by Chris Rose on behalf of the Green Party, both at The Green Party of England & Wales, PO Box 78066, London, SE16 9GQ.

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