Manchester is braced for city-wide bin strikes next month as refuse collection workers employed by Biffa have overwhelmingly voted for strike action over a ‘lousy’ pay offer.

Biffa is offering the workers, including members of Unite the union, just 1.75 per cent on pay, a real terms pay cut given that the real cost of living (RPI rate) currently stands at nine per cent and is expected to rise further.

Over 200 workers - drivers, loaders and environmental operatives - employed by Biffa on the outsourced Manchester council refuse collection contract will begin strike action on Tuesday 3 May with the strike ending on Friday 13 May. There will then be a further two week strike from Monday 23 May until Friday 3 June.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Biffa banked millions in profit last year. The company should be utterly ashamed of making such a lousy pay offer, which is actually a pay cut, at a time when workers are battling a cost of living crisis.

“Unite’s members will be receiving the union’s total support until this dispute is resolved and a fair pay rise is secured.”

The first period of strike action coincides with the local government elections on Thursday 5 May.  The second period of industrial action corresponds with the Queen’s platinum jubilee celebrations.

Biffa, which recorded pre-tax profits of £26 million last year, is a private company and therefore not obliged to abide by any public sector pay restraint policies. Despite this it has made clear it is only prepared to pay the 1.75 per cent increase that council workers were offered last year.

Biffa is proposing to pay loaders and environmental operatives only £10.14 an hour which is just 64 pence above the national minimum wage. The proposed rate for drivers, who must hold an HGV licence, is just £13.00 an hour and is far below standard commercial rates.

Unite regional officer Tanya Sweeney: “Workers have been left with no option but to take strike action because Biffa has refused to make a fair pay offer.

“Biffa can still avoid strike action and the disruption it will cause throughout Manchester by offering workers a pay increase which meets workers’ expectations.”

The members of Unite involved in the dispute recorded a 94 per cent vote in favour of industrial action on a 62 per cent turnout. The GMB union is also involved in the dispute.


Notes to editors:

Manchester facing bin strikes as Biffa workers ballot over insulting 1.75 per cent pay offer

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 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.