The city of Coventry is braced for Christmas bin strikes after members of Unite, the UK’s leading union, voted for industrial action in a dispute concerning pay and Christmas working arrangements.

Coventry bin strikes confirmed

The 70 plus workers returned a yes vote of 98.5 per cent on a turnout of over 90 per cent.

As a result of the overwhelming vote in favour of industrial action Unite has announced strikes on the following dates: four days of strike beginning on  Tuesday 21 December ending on Friday 24 December, then a two day strike beginning on Wednesday 5 January followed by a further four days of strike action from Tuesday 11 January ending on Friday 14 January.

Low pay rates

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “A 98 per cent vote in favour of industrial action shows the bin lorry drivers are fed up with low rates of pay.  Especially when they see what they could earn elsewhere nowadays. The council can resolve this dispute if it wants to. It is not of our making.

 “Unite is the union which prioritises the jobs, pay and conditions of its members. So we will be ensuring that our members at Coventry council receive the union’s full and total support until this dispute is satisfactorily resolved.”

Poverty pay rates

The affected workers are employed as refuse collection drivers and are required to hold a HGV licence. However despite the current severe shortages of qualified drivers, Coventry council is currently paying them as little as £22,000 per annum.

Coventry’s refusal to increase pay rates is in stark contrast to other local authorities who are keen to retain their refuse collection drivers and have sought to prevent them being poached by employers offering higher pay, by increasing rates or paying retention payments.

The dispute is made more complex as Coventry council is also attempting to force through last minute changes to the workers’ contracts regarding Christmas working arrangements.

Disruption to services

Unite regional officer Simon O’Keefe said: “These strikes will cause huge disruption to the refuse collection service in Coventry and will result in bins being left unemptied. This dispute is entirely of the council’s own making.

 “Unite has been seeking to resolve these issues for months without success but strikes could still be avoided if Coventry council brought forward an acceptable offer on pay and Christmas working and returned to the negotiating table.”


Notes to editors:

During the coronavirus crisis Unite is working to keep workers and the public safe, to defend jobs and to protect incomes.

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Barckley Sumner on 020 3371 2067 or 07802 329235.

Email: [email protected]

Unite is the UK and Ireland’s leading union fighting to protect and advance jobs, pay and conditions for members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Sharon Graham.