South Tyneside refuse workers have voted to walk out for four days after being 'disciplined for helping elderly and disabled residents'. 

The industrial action takes place during 'Anti-Bullying Week' on November 14-17. 

Refuse workers were given warnings for supporting a lost, elderly, distressed woman living with dementia and for carrying a wheely bin back up steep front steps for a disabled resident, according to union GMB.

But the council have said that its 'disappointed' over the council's decision to strike before the conclusion of an investigation over the issue. 

The Northern Echo: Bins won't be collected between November 14 to 17Bins won't be collected between November 14 to 17 (Image: PA MEDIA)

In total, 100 per cent majority of GMB members working at South Tyneside Refuse voted to strike.

Mark Wilson, GMB Organiser, said:  “The way these lads have been treated by South Tyneside Council is a disgrace. 

“To get a warning for showing common decency by helping elderly and disabled people is sickening.

“The time has come to say enough is enough, the bullying tactics have to be put in the bin.  

“After years of promising and failing to tackle the toxic culture in the yard, we have had no choice but to take strike action.  

“GMB will not stand by and let a council bully our members."

The Northern Echo: A South Tyneside bin wagonA South Tyneside bin wagon (Image: SOUTH TYNESIDE COUNCIL)

In response to the issues, South Tyneside has issued guidance for members of the public about the lack of bin emptying services.

Residents are advised not to put their grey, blue or green bins out during the four days of action.

The dispute relates to operational issues raised earlier this year.

An independent investigation, which was commissioned in September, is underway.

Despite the ongoing investigation, the council is committed to resolving the dispute and discussions are continuing, it says.

A South Tyneside Council spokesperson said: “We understand that any disruption to waste and recycling services is difficult for both residents and businesses.

“We always work with trade unions when specific issues are raised.

“Though we are disappointed they are planning to take this course of action before the outcome of the independent investigation, we remain committed to resolving the dispute through ongoing dialogue, mediation and conciliation. These discussions continue.

“Meanwhile, we are preparing for industrial action by trade union members.

“We have undertaken a thorough review of the service and unfortunately due to the proportion of the workforce expected to strike and the scale of disruption caused, we will not be able to empty bins until after the industrial action has ended, with bin collections resuming as normal from Tuesday, November 21.

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“We appeal for patience during this time and politely ask that in preparation residents reduce their waste as much as they can and continue to recycle responsibly.”

On the days leading up to the strike, and in the weeks after, residents and businesses are advised to continue to put their bins out as normal.

The recycling village will remain open throughout with additional booking slots being made available to residents during November.