On the dust: the battle for Thurrock

Over a year into the Covid-19 crisis, which saw the public clap for those still on the frontline, Thurrock council have seen fit to slash the terms and conditions of its local refuse workers.

At 4am, those ‘on the dust’ get themselves out of bed and head off into the dark streets to collect and dispose of household waste, with no pause or break during the devastating pandemic. Thurrock’s refuse workers provide more than just the job description, forming a vital conduit for their communities as they move house-to-house, checking in on elderly and vulnerable residents, and often receiving a few sweets in return for their troubles. 

Last year, Thurrock’s Tory majority council decided to reward these hard grafting men and women with an indecent change to their contracts, which is set to see them up to £3000 a year worse off. It’s hard to stomach that whilst local people know the value of their key workers, those in the council chose a pay cut rather than a pay rise; a stab in the back for all to see. After a unanimous ballot for industrial action, they decided not to take this lying down.

Now, on the 4th week of strike action, the council appears hopeless in breaking the spirit of the brave men and women on the picket line, with attempts to encourage police harassment, threats of ASBOs and the inevitable move to hire external scab labour, the strikers remain firm, bolstered by masses of public support, as well as a few BBQs. 

These attacks on our communities and their key workers are not new, but with the looming economic crisis, we can expect the frequency and ruthlessness to only increase. For this reason, solidarity with these workers in Thurrock is a must, to show those in power we will take not one step back. 

Click here to support the Thurrock refuse workers on strike.

Challenge News Desk

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