Refuse workers employed by French-owned waste management company Veolia on the outsourced Croydon council refuse collection contract will strike for an initial three weeks this summer in a dispute over poverty pay.

Croydon strike

Over 100 refuse workers who are members of Unite, the UK’s leading union, and employed as drivers, loaders and sweepers, will begin strike action on Thursday 16 June with the strike ending on Friday 8 July. Further strike action could be announced if no progress is made in the dispute.

The workers are striking over poverty rates of pay, with many workers earning over £7,000 a year less than comparative roles in other London boroughs.

Low pay

The refuse drivers, who must hold a HGV licence, are paid £12.51 an hour while many of the loaders and sweepers receive just £10.75 an hour (30 pence an hour below the London Living Wage).

Pay rise needed

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “These workers deserve a pay rise and Veolia can well afford to pay it. It is a disgrace that a company expecting to pocket over £1 billion in profits won’t pay the rate for the job and is demanding our workers take a pay cut while inflation soars. 

"This is out and out corporate greed and we will challenge it all the way. Unite will be giving our members its total support until this dispute is resolved.”

Croydon council

Unite has called on the client, Croydon council, to intervene in the dispute to ensure that Veolia pays a fair rate of pay.

Despite 10 months of negotiations, Veolia has only been prepared to offer an increase of 2.5 per cent for drivers and just two per cent for sweepers and loaders for 2021. The company is also attempting to impose a real terms pay cut for 2022. The real inflation rate (RPI) is currently 11.1 per cent.

Veolia is an incredibly wealthy company it is currently undertaking an £11.1 billion (13 billion euro) takeover of fellow waste management company Suez and has announced it expects to make a profit of over £1 billion (1.2 billion euros) this year.

Extensive negotiations

Unite regional officer Clare Keogh said: “Despite extensive negotiations, Veolia has refused to table anything like an adequate pay offer. As a result our members are being forced to take strike action as a last resort.

“Even at this late stage strike action and the resulting disruption it will cause can still be avoided by Veolia making an offer that meets members’ expectations.”


Notes to editors:

Veolia refuse workers in Croydon balloted for strike action over poverty pay

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.