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Striking workers urge Canning Town recycling plant boss to meet their demands

PUBLISHED: 15:25 03 April 2018 | UPDATED: 15:28 03 April 2018

During the action the 10 met Orion boss John Stride to negotiate. Picture: GORDON ROLAND PEDEN

During the action the 10 met Orion boss John Stride to negotiate. Picture: GORDON ROLAND PEDEN

Archant

A team of recycling plant workers who went on strike over “dangerous” conditions have urged their boss to meet their demands.

Ten staff went on strike over two days. Picture: GORDON ROLAND PEDENTen staff went on strike over two days. Picture: GORDON ROLAND PEDEN

The Peruvian employees, who sort stone, metal and glass refuse at the Orion waste management and recycling plant in Cody Dock, Canning Town, staged walkouts on Wednesday and Thursday last week over health and safety fears.

United Voices of the World union rep Petros Elia, who supported the strikers, claimed the 10 men “were working in a sandstorm” at the plant wearing face masks which weren’t replaced when clogged with dust.

He added the men’s hands were cut when old gloves weren’t replaced and they had no toilet paper or wash facilities.

Peruvian workers at an unofficial picket outside a recycling plant in Canning Town. Picture: GORDON ROLAND PEDENPeruvian workers at an unofficial picket outside a recycling plant in Canning Town. Picture: GORDON ROLAND PEDEN

Mr Elia said the men “never” received medical check ups, were only paid the minimum wage and banned from taking full holiday entitlement in one, meaning they didn’t have a “decent amount of time” to visit family in Peru.

They were also only offered statutory sick pay of £89.35 per week, leaving them no choice but to turn up for work if ill.

And the Peruvians have endured these conditions for months, the union rep explained.

But Orion boss John Stride said in a statement that “a small number of workers” had raised “some concerns on a range of issues” but the family owned business, which employs 80 people and has been based in east London for 20 years, had yet to receive anything in writing from the strikers to allow it to address any “specific circumstances” formally.

Equipment is in line with health and safety requirements and pay rates are legal, Mr Stride added in his statement.

“The majority of the workforce are working as normal as the dispute is not supported by the majority of employees. We are confident that by Monday morning April 2 any concerns can be addressed,” the statement read.

Mr Stride said he was aware of video shared on social media appearing to show conditions at the site, but that the clips “do not reflect normal practice”.

On the unofficial strike, Mr Elia said: “It was necessary. It was the only solution for the strikers.

“A couple of the workers had only been employed for a month.

“To do a month’s service and then go on strike takes courage.

It speaks to how serious the issues were,” Mr Elia added.

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