Unite members working for Veolia in Bromley, Croydon and Camden have won a pay victory in terms of both pay and terms and conditions. This victory comes at a time when many workers are facing pay cuts and where local government workers have only been offered 1 per cent following years of a pay freeze, and shows that a determined campaign can win real gains for workers.
Our members, employed in waste services in Bromley and Croydon, had voted for strike action in the next stage of what was becoming an increasingly bitter pay dispute. In Camden an indicative ballot had rejected the employer’s latest offer. Pay is negotiated on a site by site and contract by contract basis. While maintaining this principle, the union took a tactical decision to run joint campaigns on all three sites. While the negotiations took place separately, it was the same regional officer at all three sites. This allowed for report backs to all sites and joint working.
The joint campaign also ensured that should it come to industrial action, the employer would not be able to use workers from one site to break a strike at another.
Following indicative ballots at Bromley and Croydon an industrial action ballot took place at both sites and returned a yes vote. Camden was a bit further behind in the negotiations, but the union ran an indicative ballot and got the yes vote allowing us to keep this as a further escalation measure.
A publicity campaign was also launched to put our side of the argument.
Once days for strike action were named, the company requested that the strike days be suspended and that Acas talks begin. The union agreed. At Acas, the employer made an improved offer amounting to:
- 2.25 per cent this year (backdated to November for Bromley and January for Croydon)
- 2.25 per cent next year
- Sick pay increased by a week full pay and a week half pay and the same next year
- An increase in annual leave by a day
The offer was also extended to Camden despite the employer initially being unwilling to discuss Camden.
During consultations meetings the majority of members accepted the offer.