Businesses across the UK could be facing a big stink this summer as members of Unite, the UK’s leading union, employed by waste contractor Veolia, ballot for industrial action in a dispute over a series of pay freezes.

National dispute

The dispute involves workers who undertake Veolia’s commercial bin collection service, which operates from over 25 depots spread across the UK.

The dispute is a result of Veolia attempting to impose a pay freeze on the workers for 2021, which follows the company’s decision not to make a pay offer for 2020.

Proposed pay freeze

It has been calculated that two successive pay freezes will cost the affected workers £20 a week in wages, in real terms.

The ballot for industrial action will open on Friday 21 May and will close on Monday 7 June.

Late June strikes

If workers vote for industrial action then strikes could begin in late June, which corresponds with when the economy is due to fully reopen following the pandemic.

To add insult to injury, while Veolia’s staff who operate its domestic waste contract received a Covid-19 bonus payment for working throughout the pandemic, the workers on the commercial waste contract who continued to work received nothing.

Members are also angry that Veolia has sufficient capital to fund a multi-billion pound takeover of fellow waste company Suez but it seems unable to invest in its most important commodity, its workforce.

Big stink

Unite national officer Matt Draper said: “UK businesses are facing a big stink this summer if Veolia commercial waste drivers take strike action.

 “This will result in bins being unemptied and rubbish piling up.

 “Our members are not prepared to accept a second successive pay freeze, a pay cut in real terms.

 “Veolia has plenty of money to fund its takeover of Suez but when it comes to its own staff it pretends the cupboard is bare.

 “This dispute and the stench that will follow can be avoided if Veolia returns to the negotiating table and makes a realistic pay award.”


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 media enquiries ONLY please contact Unite senior communications officer Barckley Sumner on 07802 329235 or 0203 371 2067.

Email: [email protected]

Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.