Dave Murray, Essex Socialist Party
Thurrock refuse workers’ action against drastic cuts in pay completed its first week in fine form. Workers are taking daily strike action from 9am, returning refuse vehicles to the depot and joining the picket line.
For the moment, the employers, Thurrock’s Tory council, are trying to play hardball, insisting that cuts to unsocial hours payments are going to happen. This might have something to do with alleged losses that the council has made in its speculative investments in the ‘green energy’ sector – which the council was in court recently trying to keep secret.
The strike is solid and seems like it will stay that way. Whatever the reason, the employer’s current stance and tactics reflects weakness, with petty measures such as threats to fine pickets for dropping cigarette ends (actually everyone is very careful not to litter) and on 19 April sending for a police officer to somewhat sheepishly remind organisers of the need to socially distance. Obviously, such distancing does not apply when workers are travelling in the cabs of the refuse vehicles four at a time.
The weather has been kind, and morale is high, so there is an almost festive atmosphere on the picket line as workers who normally wouldn’t be spending time all together get to swap experiences outside the gate. The sound system helps (the Pina Colada song though? Really?) and the barbecue is due to arrive soon, but what really shines through is the determination of this workforce not to be walked on.