THE CO-LEADER of a council’s Labour Party has strongly denied an allegation that they may have orchestrated the bin strike to undermine the Green administration.

The bin dispute has entered its seventh day, with the GMB union and Brighton and Hove City Council still in negotiations to end industrial action.

Conservative councillor Robert Nemeth told The Argus that he thinks “the entire Labour setup locally is intertwined with the workings of the GMB union and the whole debacle feels orchestrated, perhaps to undermine the Labour/Green partnership.

“I wouldn’t be surprised to see a pre-planned press release appearing shortly that magically suggests that Labour has saved the day.”

However, Councillor John Allcock, co-leader of the Labour group, said that Cllr Nemeth’s accusations were “concerning” and said: “We hope that the Conservative group see the need to distance themselves from these unhelpful and unfounded comments.”

He said: “His comments are the more galling given that the Conservative government austerity onslaught has seen over £100 million cut from our city’s council finances over the last 11 years and thousands of public service jobs cut across the country.

“Perhaps Councillor Nemeth would be better off praising the work of Cityclean staff who have been providing services above and beyond throughout the pandemic and by focusing on the ways to end the dispute.

“We are not aware of Cllr Nemeth or the Conservative group doing anything to help end the misery facing residents across the city.”

Cllr Allcock said that the party’s councillors recognise that the strikes, part of an ongoing dispute over pay and working conditions, are an action of last resort and explained the last Labour administration avoided industrial action by “keeping lines of communication open and working hard with both unions and managers to find solutions.”

“We are rightly concerned about the impact of the rubbish and recycling collection strike on residents who have already been experiencing months of problems with irregular collections. They are understandably exasperated as a long-term solution to the crisis hasn’t been forthcoming.

“We are bitterly disappointed on behalf of residents across the city who now face the possibility of up to four weeks or rubbish and recycling piling up on their streets.”

If the GMB union and the council fail to agree on an end to the dispute, the bin strike could continue into next month after the union announced a second fortnight of industrial action starting from October 21.

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