Doncaster Council workers vote to walk out on opening day of St Leger Festival

Doncaster Civic Offices, part of the Doncaster Civic & Cultural Quarter
Doncaster Civic Offices, part of the Doncaster Civic & Cultural Quarter

Hundreds of Doncaster Council workers have voted overwhelmingly in favour of going on strike – on the launch day of the St Leger Festival.

Some 200 trade union members, including street cleaners and grave diggers, are set to walk out for 10 days on Friday, the opening day of one of the town’s biggest events of the year.

The industrial action means that over the course of the festival – which attracted 62,000 visitors last year – services including grass cutting, street sweeping and litter collection will be hit.

The walk-out follows ballots in which members of Unite, Unison and GMB voted to reject management proposals over changes to shift patterns and terms and conditions of employment.

The strike action will hit departments including highways, grounds maintenance and street scene.

Jim Board, branch secretary of Doncaster Unison, said: “These men and women are visible in our communities every day and have a positive impact on all of our lives and on all of our environments.

“They work in tough jobs, in all weathers, and they do so in the knowledge that they get adequate rest and time with their families and loved ones. This dispute is not about more money – it’s about time.”

In the run-up to the ballot, Gill Gillies, Assistant Director Environment at Doncaster Council, told The Star: “We’re disappointed that the trade unions are promoting industrial action amongst their members as we believe our proposals to modernise the service will safeguard staff by not cutting jobs, offering better pay and flexible shift patterns that ultimately mean many workers will work fewer days.

“We would encourage the unions to think again and continue to talk to us about modernising the service which is what these proposed changes are aiming to achieve.”

n The St Leger Festival runs in Doncaster from Friday until September 13.