THE GMB have said that "the ball is in the politicians' court" as members of the union voted to accept a deal to end the bin strike.

GMB branch secretary Mark Turner said that as long as the council vote to ratify the agreement reached between union representatives and council officials "the threat of industrial action on Thursday will be withdrawn."

Mr Turner said that the deal "ticks every box, plus more" and that pay issues in the service are being addressed.

He also said that, should the proposal pass in its entirety, more than 1,000 people in the council will see a pay rise.

Mr Turner expressed hope that industrial relations will improve between Cityclean and the council, provided that management stick to the agreement reached yesterday.

However, he said that a "big rift" has been exposed between relations between the GMB and the council.

"Clearly there are certain people in the executive team who don't want to work or engage with the GMB.

"We could have resolved this dispute a lot earlier, but the chief executive chose not to do that."

He added that the council decision to hire contractors "agitated the situation," and claims the reasons behind the decision do not stack up.

Mr Turner explained that they have received no evidence to demonstrate the reasons given by the council for third-party contractors to clear waste.

He said: "We've asked for information that's been quoted to us, like letters from the health and safety executive and East Sussex Fire and Rescue, but to date we have not got that.

"We're clear of the view that this was clear strike breaking and, if we don't see the evidence, we will be calling for an inquiry and look into what other action the union can take legally."

The council defended its decision to hire waste removal contractors to deal with "growing and serious health and safety issues".

A statement said: "The council is lawfully able to hire a third-party contractor to deliver its services during industrial action."

A second five-week long walk out had been planned to take place from Thursday, following the end of a fortnight of strike action.

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