Newham: Fears rubbish could pile up in streets ahead of bin collection strike

·3-min read
Bag of rubbish await collection (Getty Images)
Bag of rubbish await collection (Getty Images)

Refuse workers in Newham will begin a week-long strike over a pay dispute from Saturday unless a resolution is found, a union has warned.

Drivers and loaders in the Unite union will stage a week-long walk out from Saturday to September 3 after talks failed to produce a resolution.

With inflation currently at 10.1 per cent and expected to rise to 13 per cent later this year, Unite has warned that its members face a “financial crisis” due to rising living costs.

Throughout talks, workers have sought a £2,300 pay rise but were offered £850 instead, thus causing Surday’s walk out.

Unite regional officer, Steve Edwards said: “We appeared to be making good progress but the talks ended with the council offering a measly £850 when inflation is rocketing.

“The workers are already paid far less than the crews in neighboring boroughs but Newham just aren’t making a serious offer.

“So, the blame for this dispute lies squarely with the council when there is such a gaping hole in the workers’ pay packets. Time is running out. The council needs to get its act together.”

In the neighbouring boroughs of Greenwich and Hackney, refuse collectors are paid £24,763 for their roles. In Newham, similar operators are paid £22,850.

Due to the failure to resolve the dispute, up to 130 loaders and drivers will now participate in the walkout.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “The drivers and loaders at Newham have Unite’s complete support. The council must now focus on reaching a deal with the workers who face a financial crisis.

“If they don’t, then the coming days will undoubtedly mean more industrial action.”

Newham mayor Rokhsana Fiaz said: “Despite the herculean efforts by senior Council officers over the past week to avert bin strike action in Newham, staff members in our waste and recycling service have yet again turned down a generous pay package on the table.

“Not only have they snubbed wage rises of £2,229 - representing annual salary increases of between 7.8% - 9.9% for both loaders and drivers – they have turned their back on a wide-ranging package of benefits.

“The package represents at least an additional 4.1% increase to their salaries, including a £2000 retention fee for HGV drivers, enhanced overtime payments and increased payments for bank holiday working for all staff.

“Combined with the nationally proposed negotiated pay settlement, our staff in the waste and recycling service would have been in line for an overall total pay increase of between 13.8% - 17.9%.

“Regretfully, Unite union members have rejected the generous package on the table, and sadly the people who will suffer the most are our hard-working Newham residents who earn significantly less than what has been offered to our refuse workers.

“Our residents now face the crippling impact of rising energy bills and a cost of living emergency, as well as the impact of a week-long strike led by the Unite union which will start on Saturday 27 August. This will cause a build-up of refuse waste and fly-tipping plus disruption to refuse and recycling collections for several weeks, and I thank you for your patience and understanding during this time.

“I am really sorry that Newham residents have to suffer even more in these most difficult of times because of the actions of the Unite union.”