Unite has accused Coventry’s Labour run council of rank incompetence following the council’s needless escalation of the bin dispute. Council officials stand accused of ‘changing the goalposts’ during talks with Acas and suspending a Unite shop steward on bogus charges to prevent any appeals.

Discredited system

Commenting on the failure of the recent meeting with Acas to deliver a settlement, Unite general secretary, Sharon Graham, said; Once again the council changed the ‘goalposts’ when they had a chance to reach a reasonable settlement. The meeting with Acas was a farce based on an old, discredited job evaluation system, with council officers calling the shots and yet again George Duggins was not present.

The general secretary then went further, accusing council leader George Duggins of gross mismanagement and pledging Unite’s full support for suspended shop steward, Peter Randle.

Suspension must be lifted

Under no circumstances whatsoever will Unite tolerate attacks on its representatives. The suspension of Pete Randle should be lifted immediately.

 “Labour councillor Duggins has mismanaged this dispute from start to finish. His failure to attend negotiations or even acknowledge correspondence, whilst spending literally millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money on a dispute that would cost a fraction to solve, is dumbfounding.

“A toxic mix of malevolence and incompetence appears to reign at City Hall and it is about time the Council opened its books so taxpayers can see what else is going on.

“The truth is that this council has a history or wasting taxpayers’ money, including on fat cat salaries and golden handshakes. A former deputy chief executive, Martin Yardley, was given more money than any other council staff member in the whole country in 2019/20 pocketing £573,660, and in 2018, the retiring finance chief waltzed off with just shy of £450,000. 

 “Now, councillor Duggins latest pointless escalation will only add fuel to the fire and increase the chances of yet more taxpayers’ money being wasted on a dispute that could be resolved in minutes.”


Notes to editors:

  • On 9 March 2022, Coventry City Council suspended Unite shop steward Peter Randle from his job. The council has accused Mr Randle of gross misconduct. Unite says the council has suspended Peter Randle on bogus charges and pledged its full support for the Unite shop steward. The council warned that if the internal investigation proves the allegations, Mr Randle will be dismissed.
  • The HGV drivers have been on all-out strike since 31 January and are currently balloting for further strike action which could see strikes continue into the summer.
  • It is common practice for councils to pay a market rate supplement to workers whose pay banding is well below what similar workers in the local area are paid. Yet Coventry council has refused to pay the market rate for its refuse drivers.
  • A market rate supplement would cost the council just £300,000 which is dwarfed by the £2.9 million the council has already spent on the dispute and its costs continue to escalate.

During the coronavirus crisis Unite is working to keep workers and the public safe, to defend jobs and to protect incomes.

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Barckley Sumner on 020 3371 2067 or 07802 329235.

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.