Agency worker recruitment by Coventry council exposed in bin dispute
- Thursday 27 January 2022
Union has established that the Labour council is prepared to pay agency bin-lorry drivers more than the hourly rate which they are refusing to pay Unite drivers in their regrading dispute.
Unite asks council leader and the chief executive – “Why not pay the rate for the job and end the strike rather than paying out even more taxpayers’ money which won’t resolve the current stalemate?”
Unite, the UK’s leading union, has learnt that a company wholly owned by Labour-controlled Coventry council is seeking to recruit temporary refuse drivers in an attempt to undermine the on-going Coventry bin strike. The union has challenged this and demanded answers of the council and councillors.
The Recruitment Agency
Recruitment agency AFE recruitment is seeking to recruit temporary “dustcart drivers” in the Coventry area. Unite believes the practice could infringe current labour relations laws.
The Waste Company
The workers are being recruited to work for Tom White Waste Ltd which is a separate waste company and not part of the current dispute. Tom White waste is entirely owned by Coventry council.
Rates higher than Unite regrading demands
The agency workers being recruited for Tom White Waste are being offered between £18-£20 an hour which is in excess of the pay rates currently received by the striking refuse bin collection drivers, who are paid between £11.49 to £14.37 an hour. It is also well above the union regrading claim which would take the rate to between £14 and £17 an hour, according to experience and years in service.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Here we have a so-called Labour council prepared to pay agency drivers to drive its bin lorries more money than the union is asking for in its regrading claim. This is a ludicrous waste of taxpayers’ money. The council could get the strike resolved by paying for our regrading claim now and so get the bins emptied.
“Both the council leader and its chief executive need to understand that Unite’s first priority is always the job, pay and conditions of its members and we will be doing everything in our power to support and defend the workers in Coventry until this dispute is resolved.”
Strikes set to intensify
Strikes involving 70 refuse collection drivers began earlier this month in a dispute over low rates of pay. From next week (Monday 31 January) the drivers will be moving to all out strike action. It is understood this is the date that the agency drivers will be expected to begin work.
Unite is going to warn the government’s Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate, which is responsible for ensuring that the rules on agency workers are upheld, that Coventry council, Tom White Waste Ltd and AFE Recruitment appear to be ignoring the law. Unite is also going to advise the company and the agencies that they could be engaging in illegal activity.
Unite regional officer Simon O’Keeffe, said: “Rather than seeking a resolution to end the strikes and address low pay of refuse collection drivers in Coventry, it now appears that Coventry council is intent on setting up an alternative refuse collection service.
“Coventry council needs to withdraw its plans and to make a decent offer to the workers to end this dispute.”
Notes to editors:
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 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.