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Striking refuse workers dragged away from picket line and arrested by Sussex Police

REFUSE workers striking for better pay were dragged off their picket line and arrested by Sussex Police today.

Police moved in as the strikers asked scabs not to cross their picket line outside a waste depot at Hailsham in Wealden in East Sussex.

The GMB members have been on strike for a month and are employed by privateer Biffa to collect waste from almost 65,000 homes for Tory-run East Sussex County Council.

As the pickets were frog-marched away by police there were shouts of “Bully boys for Biffa!” and “Shame on you!”

Two of the three men arrested are in their sixties.

GMB senior organiser for Southern England Charles Harrity said: “GMB members, the majority of whom earn less than £10 an hour, working for Biffa in Wealden, East Sussex, have been on strike for four weeks today.

“The protests have been peaceful throughout.

“GMB understands three of the picketers were arrested today while asking strike-breakers not to cover the work of those fighting for better pay, including a manager driving a vehicle who GMB and the strikers believe does not have the correct paperwork to drive the vehicle he was in.

“This is a serious health and safety risk for GMB members on the picket line he was crossing and the general public. The licence violation was reported to the police.

“GMB remains ready to return to talks; anytime, any place, anywhere but the refuse workers of Wealden are determined to be paid enough to feed and support themselves and their families.”

A Sussex Police statement said: “Pickets or assemblies in trade disputes are not immune from criminal law and police have powers at their disposal to respond to any issues or breaches of the peace, including any offences of blocking the highway.

“When police arrived at the scene, a number of persons were blocking the highway. The officers repeatedly asked those involved to clear the highway, but some failed to comply.

“A 63-year-old man, 62-year-old man and 55-year-old man have all been arrested on suspicion of obstructing the highway and remain in custody at this time.”

East Sussex County Council was invited to comment.

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