Coventry bin strikes began today (Wednesday 5 January) after the council failed to put forward an offer to lift workers out of low pay during last minute talks with Unite, the UK’s leading union. 

More than 70 workers, who are paid as little as £22,183 a year, began 48-hours of strike action at 0700 this morning. A further four days of strike action will take place from Tuesday 11 January to Friday 14 January.

The strikes come just a day after Unite announced it had negotiated a breakthrough job reclassification for 46 HGV refuse drivers in Plymouth, from ‘unskilled’ to ‘semi-skilled’, which means a 12.5 per cent pay uplift, worth about £3,000 a year. 

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Our Coventry members agreed to postpone strike action over Christmas in good faith to allow further talks with the city council. Unfortunately, the council has refused to enter into meaningful negotiations and improve its offer. Coventry’s intransigence is particularly baffling considering the efforts of other councils to retain their HGV drivers in the face of nationwide shortages. 

“Yesterday’s ground-breaking deal in Plymouth should be a wakeup call to Coventry council that their refuse services will face long term problems if drivers continue to receive poverty pay rates. Unite will fight to defend the jobs, pay and conditions of all its HGV members.”

Unite also rebuffed accusations by Coventry council that Unite failed to attend last minute talks yesterday (Tuesday 4 January) to resolve the dispute. 

Unite regional officer Simon O’Keeffe said: “The council’s accusations that Unite has refused to engage in negotiations is simply not true. Talks with the council ended yesterday because the only offer tabled was one our membership had previously rejected. 

“Our members do not want to strike, but they are not being paid a proper rate for the job. A basic salary of £22,183 does not reflect the responsibility of the role. As a Labour council Coventry’s attitude is particularly disappointing and its needs to do better.”


Coventry council’s pay failures set to result in Christmas bin strikes

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Unite is Britain and Irelands largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Sharon Graham.