DOZENS of disgruntled binmen have gone on strike on the last day of the year in a row over pay and “barbaric” conditions.

Furious council workers claim "vehicles and the bins get better welfare facilities than the staff" amid the first planned walkout over working conditions.

Twenty HGV drivers, who work for South East Environmental Services Ltd (SEESL), which is owned by Eastbourne Borough Council, voted unanimously for industrial action during the festive period.

The company’s refuse loaders have also joined the strike in the disagreement over poor pay and safety.

The New Year’s Eve strike is the first of several to come, with walkouts planned between January 7 and January 10, with more dates to be announced.

Speaking to The Argus, one GMB organiser Charlie Harrity said bin lorries are being treated better than staff.

He said: "The irony is that the vehicles and the bins get better welfare facilities than the staff.

"They treat the equipment better than they treat the guys.

"We are not demanding - we are offering to come to work in decent conditions.

GMB Union state it finally got to meet senior management at SEESL seven weeks after issues were first raised, but it has been left with “no other alternative” other than to withdraw workers until management “see sense”.

Declan MacIntyre, GMB organiser, said: “The refuse loaders have voted to be formally balloted, to join their colleagues in the dispute and that’s come about because It has taken seven weeks for management to even respond to the issues raised by staff.

“We finally met with senior management, in the hope of perhaps suspending our action, if agreement could be reached or talks were positive.

“But even with that initial meeting starting that way, and an employer seemingly beginning to understand the barbaric conditions of which staff are expected to work under and acknowledgement that things had got worse since coming under the control of the council, unfortunately a reasonable offer wasn’t made, or agreement reached.

“Unfortunately, as we have not received any further communications from SEESL since 22nd December, and that means the walk outs will begin on New Year's Eve.

“Clearly, they are not taking the GMB Unions members issues and concerns seriously so the rubbish I’m afraid is going to remain uncollected for many and although all the staff deeply regret the impact on the residents of Eastbourne, SEESL have left them no choice."

Eastbourne Borough Council said: "We believe that this action is wholly unnecessary and not in the best interests of either our residents or our staff.

"Our priority is ensuring the refuse collection service continues without interruption.

"We will continue to talk to the GMB and hope that all outstanding issues can be resolved as quickly as possible."