Coventry bin strikes set to continue until summer as fresh vote underway in battle for the rate for the job
- Tuesday 1 March 2022
The long-running Coventry bin strike is poised to continue into the summer as the striking HGV drivers prepare to re-ballot to renew the mandate for industrial action.
Strikes began early this year and the 70 HGV drivers have been on all out strike since 31 January in the dispute over low pay. The workers’ basic rate of pay begins at just £22,183 per annum, which is far below what workers receive in the private sector and well below pay rates of neighbouring councils.
The current strikes are due to end on Thursday 24 March, but should the workers vote for renewed strike action the strikes will run through the spring, including during the local elections in May, when 18 of Coventry’s councillors will be elected.
The dispute has already cost the council £2.9 million, with costs rising daily, when it would cost just £250,000 to resolve the dispute.
Fair day's pay
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Our members are simply seeking a fair day’s pay but the Labour council continues to make excuses about why it can’t pay the rate for the job.
“Coventry council should stop wasting council taxpayers’ money and pay our members a fair wage. They could do that now and get the drivers back to work – but if they refuse to pay the rate for the job, as neighbouring councils do, then this strike goes on.
“The drivers have the complete support of Unite and the union is already ramping up its campaign to ensure our members secure the pay justice they deserve.”
There is growing anger about how the council’s elected leadership, in the Labour run authority, have abdicated their responsibility for seeking a resolution to the dispute and have failed to attend any of the meetings invited to by Unite to discuss the workers’ side of the dispute and hear their point of view.
New ballot dates
The ballot to renew strike action will open on Monday 7 March and closes on Monday 14 March.
As well as the issue of pay the drivers will also be balloted on the bullying and harassment that they have suffered, longstanding concerns that the council has failed to address.
The dispute has become increasingly bitter as a direct result of the misinformation and deliberate untruths about the workers’ earnings that the council has continued to peddle and which have inflamed the general public and resulted in workers suffering from acts of vandalism and verbal assaults.
Council should see sense
Unite regional officer Simon O’Keefe said: “If the workers vote to continue the dispute then the strikes will be a major factor in May’s local elections. The council should see sense and make an acceptable offer to our members.
“Unite has attended all the negotiations, in an attempt to resolve the dispute, and will continue to do so until Coventry council makes an offer that meets the workers’ aspirations.”
Notes to editors:
For further information on the dispute
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.
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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.