Somerset is set for extensive bin strikes beginning next month as refuse collection workers employed by waste management company Suez embark on 12 days of industrial action in a dispute over pay.

The 200 workers, who are members of Unite, the UK’s leading union, have voted for industrial action after only being offered a pay increase of 5.8 per cent. This is a real terms pay cut as the real inflation rate (RPI) currently stands at 11.3 per cent.

12 days of action

The initial 12 days of strike action will be held Wednesday to Friday each week beginning on Wednesday 12 July with the final strike currently scheduled for Friday 4 August. From 12 July until 4 August an overtime ban and a ban on catch up working will also be in place.

Real terms pay cut

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Our members play a crucial frontline role keeping Somerset clean and tidy. They are simply not prepared to accept low pay any longer. The Suez offer in reality is a real terms pay cut. Suez is a wealthy company that can fully afford to make a fair pay offer but it has chosen not to do so.

“Unite is solely focussed on the jobs, pay and conditions of its members and the workers at Suez will receive the union’s unbending support.”

Outsourced contract

The workers operate on an outsourced contract tendered by Somerset Waste Partnerships, which is operated by Somerset council.

Pay rates among the workers are low, loaders are paid just £10.98 an hour, while the drivers, who are legally required to hold a HGV licence are only paid £13.63 an hour.

Suez is a highly lucrative company and it made a gross profit of £81 million in 2021.

Huge disruption

Unite regional officer Tim Morris said: “The strike action will inevitably cause huge disruption to refuse collections throughout Somerset but this crisis is entirely of Suez’s own making. The company should stop prevaricating and make a pay offer which meets our members’ expectations.”

Refuse collection workers employed by Suez in South Gloucestershire have been striking this month and have now moved to indefinite strike action. in separate pay dispute.


Notes to editors:

Somerset set for stinking summer as Suez staff ballot for strikes over substandard pay offer

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.