Unite, the UK’s leading union, will hold a demonstration prior to Coventry council’s full council meeting, to put pressure on councillors to take action to end the ongoing bin strike, which is a result of the council failing to pay its workers a fair rate for the job.

WHEN: Tuesday 18 January between 11:30 and 13:30

WHERE: Coventry Council House, CV1 5RR

Strike action

The full council meeting precedes the seventh day of strike action (Wednesday 19 January), in the dispute over pay and working conditions. Strikes are scheduled to continue into March.

Unite is demanding that the council withdraw and correct the misleading information that it has circulated, which has inflamed tensions with the general public and which the union fears could result in verbal and physical assaults on workers.

The dispute involves 70 refuse collection drivers who are taking strike action over low pay rates. The basic starting salary of just £22,183 is far below the average pay for HGV drivers. All the drivers hold a HGV licence.

Lies and misinformation 

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Coventry councillors must be ashamed of the lies and misinformation circulated in their name and should demand that action is immediately taken to ensure a fair wage for refuse collection drivers, which will resolve this dispute.

 “Coventry is supposedly a Labour council but that will not change Unite’s commitment one iota to protect the jobs, pay and conditions of its members. Other councils have increased the pay of refuse collection drivers to protect bin collections, there is no reason why Coventry can’t follow suit.”

Council untruths 

In particular Unite is highly disturbed that the council has claimed that some refuse workers are earning in excess of £50,000. Unite has learned that this figure relates to a worker who is not a refuse collection driver and is not part of the dispute, information that Unite believes the council is fully aware of.

Other claims by the council about the workers’ pay fails to acknowledge that such rates are only achieved after workers work excessive hours. This long hours culture championed by Coventry council is having a serious effect on the workers’ physical and mental health and is also damaging family relationships.

Chief Executive

The misinformation supplied by the council ultimately emanates from its chief executive Martin Reeves, who is paid £191,036 a year. He is one of the highest paid local government officers in the UK.

Unite has been seeking to resolve the problems of low pay and also the council’s proposals to change the Christmas working arrangements, through negotiations for over 12 months, without success. The strike action was taken as a last resort, when the council informed the union that it was not prepared to make any offer to resolve the dispute.

Prepared to negotiate 

Unite regional officer Simon O’Keeffe said: “Unite is committed to resolving this dispute but it takes two to enter into meaningful and productive dialogue. If the council is prepared to put forward an offer to resolve this dispute then Unite will meet them at any time, any place, anywhere.

 “In the meantime the council must publicly withdraw its false claims about drivers’ pay. The council has a legal and moral duty not to unnecessarily inflame tensions at this time.”

 ENDS

Notes to editors:

 Coventry bin strike escalates as new strike dates announced

 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.