Bin strikes in Bexley, South London, have officially ended following the ratification of a pay deal between refuse collectors and their employer Serco, Unite, the UK’s leading union, said today (Thursday 2 September).

The deal includes a one off £750 payment for 19 staff, contract changes that will reduce pay disparities and steps to prevent the weaponization of the drug and alcohol policy.

Unite also announced an agreement with Countrystyle Recycling, who will take over the Bexley street cleaning and refuse collection contract from Serco in October, that will see pay rates dramatically improve. 

The agreement with Countrystyle Recycling will see the lowest paid workers receive a pay rise of 11 per cent with rates increasing to £11.50 an hour, above the real London Living Wage of £10.85, as well as pay rises for staff on other grades. 

Some drivers, previously on £22,000 a year because of Serco’s failure to pay workers according to stipulated pay scales, will see their wages increase to more than £30,000 when they transfer to Countrystyle. 

The deal with Countrystyle also sees staff receive an extra five days annual of leave as well as 12 weeks of industrial injury sick pay that was denied them by Serco.  

Unite regional officer Tabusam Ahmed said: “Our members refused to be cowed by the immense pressure put on them by Serco and Bexley council. Nobody wanted to take strike action but both Serco’s and Bexley council’s actions left them no other choice. 

“Fortunately, an agreement has now been reached and Unite looks forward to working productively with both Serco and Bexley council now the strikes are over.  

“But this dispute should be a lesson to Bexley council that workers who deliver services on behalf of the local authority cannot just be abandoned and ignored because they are outsourced to private companies who have race to the bottom employment practices.

“The agreement with Serco is a major win for our members, as is the agreement with Countrystyle, both of which were achieved due to strong union organisation. 

“The fact that Bexley refuse staff are now moving from the worst comparable pay rates in London to some of the best is a prime example of why workers looking to improve their wages and conditions should join Unite.” 

ENDS 

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

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