Refuse collection workers in Croydon and Bromley are preparing for possible strike action, following the breakdown of negotiations over a paltry pay offer.
The collection service in both boroughs is provided by the highly profitable French company, Veolia, which has offered two per cent in Bromley and 1.75 per cent in Croydon.
Unite, the country’s largest union which represents 126 refuse collectors in Bromley and about 50 in Croydon, said that the pathetic offer was in stark contrast to the huge salaries of the bosses of the councils that awarded the contracts, and the 20 per cent increase in profits reported by Veolia.
The basic annual salary of Croydon council’s chief executive Jon Rouse, before he left in January, was £179,000 and Bromley’s chief executive Doug Patterson is on £177,000. The accounts of Veolia Environmental Services UK plc reported that the group operating profit for year ending December 2011 was £121 million.
Unite is now preparing to hold an industrial action ballot in the next month, asking members whether they wish to take strike action and/or industrial action short of strike action.
Unite pointed out that the retail price index of inflation is running at 3.3 per cent.
Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said: "What Veolia is offering is in reality a pay cut - workers’ wages are not matching the cost of living. Utility bills, food and travel are all getting more expensive.
“Veolia’s managers are always telling us that the company is skint, but when you study the accounts you see it is a very profitable business. Yet our members on £18,000-£20,000-a-year, who help generate these profits, are offered a paltry and pathetic pay offer.
“While the services are not run by the two councils, they awarded the contracts to Veolia, so their well-paid chief executives have a moral responsibility to the workforce.
“We are told that this is the price that workers must pay for the economic mess that they did not cause. What we are doing is asking for the fair share owed to working people."
For further information please contact Onay Kasab on 07771818637 and/or Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 07768 693940
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with 1.5 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.