Greymouth rubbish workers strike over health and safety concerns

22 December, 2015  |  News

Greymouth rubbish and recycling collection workers have gone on strike amid claims their collection trucks are not road worthy.

The workers are employed by Australian contractors Subloos, who were granted an eight-year contract with the Grey District Council in 2012.

Five workers are members of First Union.

Union organiser Rachel Boyack said the workers walked off the job on Tuesday because of stalled collective agreement negotiations.

"The company is refusing to bargain with the union about health and safety concerns the workers have," she said.

"There are a range of concerns including the company's lack of good health and safety policies and procedures and the lack of protective equipment. Workers have to purchase their own protective equipment."

Two workers, who declined to be named, spoke to Stuff at the picket outside the council offices in Greymouth.

One said he had refused to drive the rubbish truck because it had no certificate of fitness.

"It was only after we refused to drive the trucks that they were fixed. One of the trucks was out for four weeks being fixed. That's how bad it was," he said.

Another worker said she was being paid less than her male colleagues and had to pay $233 for a waterproof jacket for her rubbish collection duties.

They said they had no contracts and felt bullied by bosses when they raised concerns.

Subloos refused to comment when contacted on Tuesday.

Grey District Council asset manager Mel Sutherland said the council was unaware of the strike until Tuesday afternoon.

"We're following up and asking questions ourselves. I understand the rubbish will be collected by non-union members there will just be a slight delay," he said.

The council was aware some trucks had previously been on the road without certificates, but had received assurances from the company that all vehicles were now roadworthy.