THE UNION representing refuse workers on strike has criticised councillors for calling their industrial action over pay and working conditions “unnecessary”.

GMB organiser Declan Mac Intyre said he finds it “hard to understand” the position the Tories are taking over the ongoing industrial action in Eastbourne.

The comments come after the Conservatives in Eastbourne told The Argus they “hope for a speedy resolution of unnecessary industrial action.”

When asked, the councillors chose not to elaborate on why they think the strike action is unnecessary.

Declan Mac Intyre said: “We have Tory councillors coming out with comments about unnecessary strike action. All strike action should be unnecessary.

“Staff here have been driven to take this action to try and be listened to, that is why we’re here.

“I was absolutely shocked and gobsmacked that they would take that view of it. They should be asking why was it necessary to take this action, not to say it is unnecessary.

“It is just odd, either they haven’t got their finger on the pulse or they don’t appreciate the impact on staff and residents.

The Argus: There will be three more days of strike from Friday, with further dates to come in JanuaryThere will be three more days of strike from Friday, with further dates to come in January

“Fundamentally, you’re looking at a group of people here who have lost a day’s pay, they’re going to end up picking this up anyway. They know they have to do this work and they have lost money, it impacts them and their families at a very tight time of the year.”

Meanwhile, Eastbourne Borough Council said in a statement on New Year’s Eve that it is taking legal advice after a GMB representative “blocked” a lorry from leaving the depot on the first day of the strike.

The Argus understands that the driver was a mechanic from the depot who also had a licence to drive the HGVs, not one of the 20 HGV drivers for South East Environmental Services Ltd, who are all on strike.

The Argus: The workers claim they have nowhere to get dry when it's rainingThe workers claim they have nowhere to get dry when it's raining

A council spokesman said: “Council staff who are not part of the strike action were stopped by the GMB Union from carrying out refuse collections. We apologise to all our residents for the inconvenience this action has caused.

“A representative from the GMB Union stood in front of our refuse vehicles as they attempted to leave the depot. This act was dangerous, and we are taking legal advice to avoid any repeat of this reckless behaviour.

“We are trying to resolve the situation as quickly as possible and will keep residents updated through the local media, on the council website and via social media channels.

“The council’s senior management met with the GMB Union on December 22 and considered it a positive step forward, so it is deeply disappointing that they have taken this action today."

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