Oxigen: Four months on strike

Oxigen workers have had to endure four months on strike because this private waste company has refused to recognise their union SIPTU.

By Brian Cahill

Workers are denied the right to be represented by their union in any dealings with their employers. Their pay and conditions are worse than those of bin workers employed by the councils. Council bin workers in most areas of Dublin have to collect 1,100 bins on a route, Oxigen forces its workers to collect 1,400 and the workers do not receive any overtime payments. Oxigen has the contract to collect the green recycling bins in Dublin, which are now collected by scabs.

Dublin's waste collection service is under the threat of privatisation. The councils hope that the bin tax can be used to provide a source of income attractive to private companies. If Oxigen can get away with refusing to recognise the union, the resulting worse pay and conditions will be used to as a weapon against Council bin workers.

With this agenda in mind, local authorities are already working with Oxigen. In some parts of the country the service has already been entirely privatised. Other councils lease many of their bin trucks from the company.

One striker told the Voice "We are stung both ways. We're being charged a bin tax for our own bins while suffering terrible pay and conditions to collect bins".

Council bin workers have already come out in sympathy for a half day. If the SIPTU leadership is serious about winning this dispute, such action needs to be escalated. A serious campaign of solidarity action, combined with the union giving 100% backing to council bin workers to refuse to implement the non-collection of the bins of people who are boycotting the bin tax could win the Oxigen strike, stop the privatisation agenda and destroy the hated bin tax.

More trade union articles and other reports from the Bin Charges Campaign.

This article is from the January 2004 edition of Socialist Voice.
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