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monthly newsletter

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Now is the time for community-driven, people-powered change in South Tyneside.

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In this issue:








Citizens' Assembly

South Tyneside

Contact us:




Welcome to your




Interview with GMB union

As the war of words between South Tyneside

Council and GMB Union continues to escalate over

the refuse collection industrial action, we interview

GMB Organiser, Mark Wilson, about the situation.

Lib Dems and Reform UK enter mayoral race

Promising a ‘new direction‘, the Liberal Democrats have

announced Dr. Aidan King as their mayoral candidate. A

councillor in Newcastle’s Castle ward from 2018 to 2021, Dr.

King works in the RVI and is also a lecturer at Newcastle

University. Arguing that the region needs ‘a strong

champion’, he pledged to build the UK's largest on-shore

wind farm to create employment, ‘kickstart a house-building

renaissance’ and use a ‘common-sense’ approach to

transport, incorporating Metro, bus, car and bike.

Also running, Reform UK have named Councillor Paul

Donaghy, as their candidate. Cllr Donaghy, who currently

represents Washington South on Sunderland City Council, is

offering ‘something different in politics’ and representing the

people of the area - promoting economic growth, improving

infrastructure and enhancing community development,

including investing in youth provisions.

Current contenders for the 2nd May election:

Conservative: Guy Renner-Thompson

Green Party: Andrew Gray

Independent: Jamie Driscoll

Labour: Kim McGuinness

Lib Dem: Dr. Aidan King

Reform UK: Paul Donaghy

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News & Views



On 23rd January, South Tyneside Council (STC) published the

latest in an increasingly testy exchange between the Council and

GMB Union regarding the ongoing refuse collection industrial

action - you can read the statements here

But, as we all know, there are two sides to every story and here we

put the issues raised in the STC statement to GMB Organiser, Mark


There's a lot of discussion and speculation on social media as to the actual reason for the strikes. Please

can you confirm, is it bullying, mismanagement, working conditions or pay?

The issue is that as far back as the pandemic, members have complained about how they are being managed

and treated by their direct management. Up until last Spring colleagues have been dismissed for trivial

reasons, depending on who they are, our members tell me 80% of them have been disciplined in the last few

years, many for nonsense issues.

The Council tried to dispute this by saying only 4 or 5 have live warnings but every week one or two of our

members are being investigated. I was given STC, as a GMB Officer, to deal with 2 years ago, and my first

meeting with the then Head of HR, Graham Fells shook my hand and his first words were "You haven't come

to talk about the Refuse dept, have you?" which highlighted to me that the issues were widely known then.

The issues are many including never being able to finish on time due to an increase in the rounds, the

excessive disciplinaries, lack of support around wellbeing, micromanagement etc.

The statement released by STC referred to 7 out of 9 allegations being upheld or partly upheld, can you

confirm which allegations these refer to?

We lodged grievances in June 2023 and later in the year they instructed an independent investigator from

outside of the Council to conduct the grievance process, investigate and make some recommendations as a

response. He began the investigation in September and produced a report which was given to the Council on

or around 30 November. On that day we were given a briefing on the report, but we have never seen it, or any

details from it, or had a copy of it, which is still a major problem for us.

We were advised that 7 of the 9 elements of the grievance were either fully or partially upheld. When we

challenged some of the information they decided to pull the report and asked the investigator to do more

work to clarify some of the concerns. We do not know what the outcome of those discussions with the

Council were but 2 weeks ago we were given a report written by the Head of Service Stuart Wright that

upheld 0 of the 9 allegations in the grievance, and he confirmed he'd went against the outcome of the

independent report, as he didn't believe there was any evidence of bullying, and even that the grievance

wasn't about bullying and mismanagement.

We've been advised if we share the report he's given us we will not have the right to appeal against it.

The statement also alleges that GMB have walked away from ACAS, is that correct?

Last October the Council asked us to go to ACAS and when we asked if they were going to make an offer of

resolution before the independent report was concluded, they said they wouldn't be making any offers

outside of the report, which rendered ACAS pointless.

continued over

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The latest round of industrial was labelled a ‘publicity stunt’ as it took place during 'Bullying Week'. What

is your response to this?

We called the first strike before we realised it was bullying week but found it a happy coincidence, the

Councils comments are in poor taste as our members have now lost 4 weeks wages being on strike, which is

not a publicity stunt.

GMB are accused of providing ‘inaccurate information to the public regarding this industrial [a]ction’.

How do you respond to this?

All of our communications are designed on putting over the reasons why the members have chosen to take

this action, all of which are honest and true. The Council may disagree and have a different point of view, but

our members are trying to get their stories into the public to challenge some of the misinformation we believe

the council are sharing.

STC lay the responsibility for the ongoing situation fully at GMB's door - STC ‘remains ready to resolve

this through conciliation’. How do you reply to this?

Our members want to see the independent report that the Council are withholding, and they want to be

believed, so the bullying stops. If we had that report, I believe that would halt the action until we've seen and

responded to it and got into some resolution discussions with STC.

What would bring the industrial action to an


In the last 3-4 months we've had around 4

meetings with them, where they've asked us to

stop the action, we've asked them to give us a

proposal to put to the members to do that, but

we've had nothing.

What are your next steps?

Our next action is scheduled for February 20-

23 and we'll be again engaging with the public

in the corners of STC.

South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck on the GMB picket line, Jan. 2024

Photo: property of Emma Lewell-Buck MP

https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=764906172119701&set=a.354460213164301 (Accessed: 30/01/2024)

FEBUARY: What are...20 minute cities?


Any terms you’re unsure of?

Let us know and we’ll take an honest, impartial look into them for you.

Consultation on the draft Local Plan

Until 3rd March, STC will be consulting on a new draft of the Local Plan which, if adopted, will be used to

assess developmental proposals across our borough. With questions set by the UK government, respondents

are required to focus specifically on legal compliance, soundness and how the plan has been prepared.

Covering areas such as ‘[m]eeting the needs of local people, [s]upporting economic growth, [h]ousing

development, [u]se of green belt and previously developed (brownfield) land’ and ‘[t]he Council's

commitments around climate change’, a new plan is needed as the current plan is out of date.

Although the series of focused informational sessions have now ended, several CAF meeting presentations

are still outstanding - East Shields and Whitburn CAF, St Gregory's Church Hall, Thurs 8th February (6pm),

Jarrow and Boldon CAF, Jarrow Town Hall, Thurs 15th February (10am) and Hebburn CAF, Hebburn Central,

Mon 19th February (10am).

For more information on the Local Plan Consultation, click here

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community noticeboard


£28,129 - £32,456 (pro-rata) fixed term but may be extended subject

to future funding. Closing date: 11 February 2024

The post will support females in the Beacon & Bents and Simonside &

Rekendyke areas who are economically inactive, have children/caring

responsibilities, are living with poor mental health and/or currently

experiencing barriers to services and support.

Interested? More info here

(news)letters & links:

click the white link for more info

Friends of the Earth

Climate Hope podcasts


Sat. 10 February (10:00 - 15:00)

Bringing you food and drink producers from across the North East, the

Local Heroes NE Hebburn New Town Food Market takes place each

second Saturday opposite Fountain Park (between Asda and the Iona

Club). Why not pop along and support local producers?

Interested in trading? Check out the Facebook page and register your

interest to trade with Local Heroes NE here


Do you support healthcare in South Tyneside or Sunderland (admin,

volunteers, local authority etc) and wondered what health literacy is all

about, why it matters and how it can help?

STSFT have announced several health literacy training sessions, just

click on the link below to register your interest:

South Tyneside District Hospital, Tues 13 February 2024, 2-2:45pm

Sunderland Royal Hospital, Mon 8 April 2024, 10-10:45am

Do you have an issue you want to raise or discuss with your

local STC councillor?

Why not pop along to their regular surgery?

To get the dates and times for your councillor, simply select your

ward councillor from this list and scroll down or call the Town Hall

on 0191 427 1717 and ask for details.

Walking Cricket @

Temple Park

Info flyer

Divest Tyne & Wear

Facebook page

ClimateReads Book Group webpage

Big River Makers Market

Facebook page

Save South Tyneside

Hospital Campaign

Facebook page

Tyne and Wear Centre

Against Unemployment

Facebook page

https://bit.ly/3ZDj2zI CITIZENSASSEMBLYST southtyneside@assembly.org.uk

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