NEGOTIATIONS over the ongoing bin dispute have collapsed after the council backtracked on an earlier offer, the GMB union have claimed.

Both Brighton and Hove City Council and the GMB said talks had been “productive” at the end of last week, but union representatives left a meeting after the council proposed a lower pay increase than was put forward to them last Friday.

Branch leader Mark Turner explained the council said their offer was non-negotiable and felt that there was no option but to leave the negotiating table.

He said: “They made a presentation and we told them that, not only was it not good enough, but they had gone backwards. The Green administration had changed their position from what was agreed on Friday.

“During that meeting, they had said one of the things we had been asking for was achievable. This afternoon, it was no longer achievable.”

He also hinted that an announcement might be made tomorrow with additional dates for industrial action.

This would add to the second two week strike planned for October 21, announced last week.

When The Argus asked Mr Turner whether residents could expect another two week strike to be announced, he said: “It could be more than that.”

GMB are calling on the council to settle the dispute around the removal of drivers from long-standing rounds and other changes.

A ballot by the union for a two week walkout received unanimous support last month, with the union announcing last week a further fortnight of strike action from October 21.

Mr Turner explained that the council had approached the union for an arrangement on raising pay for workers, with the GMB saying that a raise should apply to the whole City Clean workforce.

He said that, in meetings last week, the council accepted a proposed grading structure for workers’ pay by union representatives, but in this afternoon’s meeting, they proposed a lower grading system.

Mr Turner said: “One of my colleagues asked if there was any movement in that or can we have further discussions, and the head of HR said no, so it’s pointless for us to continue. I can’t do any more.

“So what the council has put out saying it’s a ‘significant offer’ is to make us look like the bad people - but we have to deal with what’s in front of us.”

However, Mr Turner said that he remains hopeful that issues around the way staff are being treated can be ironed out “fairly quickly,” and that his door remains open if the council wants to have further discussions to resolve the dispute.

“I can call this strike off tomorrow, any time, if we reach the aspirations we’re looking for - we can stop this misery for the public,” he said.

He also stressed that strike action is an absolute last resort for workers.

Mr Turner said: “Members don’t take action lightly. They’re not getting paid. That’s how determined and angry they are.”

A council spokesman said: "No offer was made, formal or informal, on Friday. We urge the GMB to return to talks so that we can continue with negotiations."

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