Image: Flickr/Dominic Alves
Image: Flickr/Dominic Alves

Thousands visit temporary rubbish sites as Coventry bin strike continues

More than 19,000 visits have been made to temporary waste collection sites in Coventry as a dispute between the council and bin lorry drivers continues.

This comes as the Unite union announced that the strike is set to last into March at the very least.

Unite claims Coventry is unwilling to increase the pay of its in-house refuse collection drivers, which the trade union says stands at £22,183 per year, and has been termed “poverty pay” by some drivers.

The council says workers rejected “generous offers” to address 52-week work focused on collections during the week between Christmas and New Year and additional pay.

No agreement was reached before Christmas, and the original strike action began on 5 January.

Strikes took place on 6 January, and were followed by a further four days of strike action from Tuesday 11 to Friday 14 January.

After disputing some of the council’s claims, Unite announced 19 further strike dates for January, February, and March.

As a result of the dispute, four pop-up waste disposal sites opened on Wednesday 29 December, with a further two set to open in January.

Thousands of bags of rubbish were left at the drop-off sites, and there were reports of huge queues of people seeking to offload waste.

Unite regional officer Simon O’Keefe said: “This dispute is entirely of the council’s own making.

“Rather than seek a negotiated settlement and ending low pay, the council seems more interested in sending out ever more bizarre communications, which are simply rising tensions.”

The council said it was one of the best-paying local authorities in the West Midlands for the Class II HGV drivers, and its hands were tied legally without incurring equal pay claims.

On Wednesday 5 January, the Unite union said that some of its drivers were “paid as little as £22,183 a year”, and said it wanted to “lift workers out of low pay”.

We will continue to work with the trade union to find a suitable and legal solution to this problem

– Andrew Walster, the Director for Street Services for Coventry City Council

 

But the local authority put out a statement to respond to what it called “blatant inaccuracies”, and said the lowest paid driver was actually getting £28,148, with the highest earner receiving £52,163.

The next day, Unite said those figures involved overtime of up to 50 hours a week, and accused the local authority of “increasingly intemperate and widely inaccurate public statements”.

Andrew Walster, the Director for Street Services for Coventry City Council, said: “At the top end of the pay scale, we are one of the higher paying, if not the highest paying authority in the West Midlands.

“We will continue to work with the trade union to find a suitable and legal solution to this problem.

“In the meantime, we will do everything we can to make sure people can get rid of their waste in the city.”

  

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