BIN collection strikes in Rugby will continue after the union organising them rejected Rugby Borough Council’s (RBC) ‘completely unacceptable’ pay offer to lorry drivers and street cleaners.
RBC offered to increase wages for the two roles in the hopes of ending the strike as it entered a fourth week – but has refused a pay rise for loaders, instead offering to extend their working day to boost their wages.
The council has offered to raise drivers’ maximum annual wage from £23,400 to £30,940, and street cleaners’ from £19,200 to £24,587.
RBC said Unite the Union’s request for loaders to be paid for Community Time equivalent to 30 minutes work per day could be agreed by increasing their hours from 37 to 39.5 per week – “bringing an end to the practice of allowing staff to leave work as soon as bin collection rounds are completed”.
A Unite spokesperson said: “We have not yet reached an agreement on pay for the loaders. For this reason the council’s offer is completely unacceptable as it currently stands. The workers went into this dispute together and they are standing united.”
Around 70 Unite members are demanding a pay increase, in protest at a 1.75 per cent pay rise for local government workers which was negotiated nationally by the National Joint Council for Local Government Services and agreed by the Unison and GMB trade unions over a year ago.
Unite regional officer Zoe Mayou said: “Unite has made it clear we cannot resolve this dispute unless the workers’ pay demands are addressed collectively.”
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham added: “Workers are struggling to pay the bills. Our members are being hammered by the toxic combination of low pay and a cost of living crisis.
“They have had enough. They are united in their strike and their calls to the council to sort it out.”
RBC made the offer after concluding a review of job roles and pay which began in November.
A spokesman said: “Analysis has confirmed that an increase in pay in the street cleaner and driver roles is justified. It has also showed that interim increases in driver pay that had been agreed in December should be made permanent.
“Analysis of refuse loader roles confirmed that the existing grade, which attracts above average pay, is correct.”
RBC leader Coun Seb Lowe said: “We have balanced our responsibilities towards our staff with our responsibilities to our residents. We are mindful of the need to be good stewards of public money.
“We are continuing to engage in constructive discussions with Unite and, while we cannot alter the national pay settlement, we have made an offer and hope to reach an agreement soon.”
The strike is due to end on June 15.