Unite general secretary Sharon Graham, will speak at an online rally tomorrow (Wednesday 9 February), in support of refuse collection drivers employed by Coventry council,  who have been on all out strike since 31 January in a dispute over low pay.



When: Wednesday 9 February 18:30

Where: https://www.facebook.com/unitetheunion1/live (this is a Facebook Live event – you don’t need to be on Facebook to watch).


Alongside Sharon Graham there will also be speeches from workers taking part in the strike and members of the local trades council.


Low paid workers


The workers, who all hold an HGV licence, are striking over low rates of pay. They are paid a basic rate of just £11.49 to £14.37 an hour, which is below comparable rates of pay for HGV drivers in the region. The striking workers have stated how the low rates of pay coupled with the cost of living crisis mean they have to make tough choices on cutting back on food or heating for their families.


Dreadful misrepresentation


Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Coventry council is guilty of wasting council taxpayers’ money. This dispute would take just £250,000 to resolve. The council estimates that the dispute has already cost it £1.8 million and yet it continues to pour money into a private waste service rather than resolve the strike.


 “The Coventry Labour council has time and again totally misrepresented the union's claims for its bin drivers. It should be ashamed of the spin it has tried to make about its own workers’ pay rates. These dreadful misrepresentations are deliberately designed to enrage the general public which directly risks the welfare of workers who are taking part in an entirely legal dispute. And this, a Labour council.


“Other councils up and down the UK have increased pay rates for refuse collection drivers to preserve services due to the HGV driver shortages. If other councils can increase pay rates to preserve services and prevent an exodus of drivers, there is absolutely no reason why Coventry council can’t do the same.


“Unite is dedicated to defending the jobs, pay and conditions of its members. Our members at Coventry council will continue to receive the union’s total support until this dispute is resolved."


Tense dispute


The dispute has become increasingly tense and this has been fuelled by deliberate lies told by Coventry council about the pay rates the striking workers receive.


The low pay of the refuse drivers is in sharp contrast to Coventry’s top council bosses who were paid £2.9 million last year. Chief executive Martin Reeves takes home £229,000 in pay and pension. 


Rather than seek to resolve the dispute, the council has instead put its energies in setting up a rogue, alterative bin collection service and has recruited agency drivers on rates of between £18 - £20 an hour to drive the vehicles, far above the rates the striking workers receive or are seeking in order to end the dispute. 


Truth must be heard


Unite regional officer Simon O’Keeffe said: “Despite the deliberate misinformation circulated by the council and councillors, it is vital that the people of our city hear the truthUnite remains committed to seeking a resolution to this dispute and is meeting the council on a regular basis as we have done throughout the dispute.”




Notes to editors:


Coventry bin strikes begin as Labour council reneges on promised 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]


Twitter: @unitetheunion Facebook: unitetheunion1 Instagram: unitetheunion Web: unitetheunion.org


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.