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Strike ballot over bullying claims at East Sussex waste

Refuse and recycling workers for the East Sussex Waste Partnership are voting on strike action following union claims that complaints about safety and bullying have not been taken seriously.

A group of 154 GMB union members employed by Kier Environmental Services are voting on the ballot, which will close on 24 February.

Gary Cook, GMB regional organiser, claimed that a number of members had been signed off sick with stress because of “bullying and intimidating attitudes of Kier management”, which he said had not been addressed by the company.

A Kier spokesman responded: “Although we have not received any formal explanation for the ballot for strike action, we believe it relates to two instances where safety and wellbeing were actually our paramount concern.

“These instances relate to breaches by six employees of our drugs and alcohol policy, and a case of bullying and intimidation within the workforce, which we take a zero tolerance approach to. It will be disappointing if the GMB takes the view that it is appropriate to condone this behaviour.”

The GMB also claims that Kier agreed that glass falling from recycling bins presented a risk to workers and the public but had not taken any steps to address the issue.

Kier said it remains open to discussions with GMB on both issues, including dialogue on “any other operational issues, like glass recycling bins”.

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