RUBBISH and recycling collection crews are set to strike across South Gloucestershire next week in response to a pay offer described as a “significant real terms pay cut”.
Around 150 workers employed by South Gloucestershire Council waste contractor Suez will strike for a week from Monday and another two weeks from the last week of June into July.
Union Unite said the workers voted to strike by 89 per cent after rejecting an eight per cent pay offer from the company.
Announcing the action, the union said: “With the real rate of inflation, RPI, at 11.4 per cent, this is a significant real terms pay cut.”
Unite says Suez made profits of £80.8 million in 2021.
The company’s South Gloucestershire bin loaders earn £11.53 per hour – equivalent to around £460 for a five-day week at eight hours per day, or just under £24,000 a year.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Suez is an extremely profitable company but is offering these workers a real terms pay cut during the worst cost of living crisis in generations.
“Unite’s total focus on defending our members’ jobs, pay and conditions will ensure that Suez’s workforce have their union’s absolute support in fighting back against their employer’s greed.”
The strike action is due to take place from June 12 to 18, then from June 26 to July 9 and the union added: “If the dispute is not resolved, industrial action will intensify over the summer.”
Unite regional officer Ken Fish said: “Our members have been forced to take action because Suez refuses to table a reasonable pay offer.
“South Gloucestershire’s residents are facing a stinky summer because of Suez’s greed.
“This is a lucrative contract and the council needs to intervene and force Suez to put forward a fair offer to our members.”
A Suez spokesperson said: “We have offered our teams working on our contract with South Gloucestershire Council an 8% pay increase for 2023 which, when combined with the similar pay increase agreed in 2022, delivers pay increases of 15 – 16.75% over 2 years.
“Industrial action is the very last outcome we want to see – we still believe our offer is a competitive one and our door remains open to Unite Trade Union.
“However, with talks currently stalled, we are developing contingency arrangements with the Council so that we can minimise disruption for local communities.”
The company said levels of service on strike weeks would depend on the availability of non-striking staff and it could not say whether other services, such as recycling centres, would be running or not.
A South Gloucestershire Council spokesperson said: “We are aware of the planned industrial action and are working closely with Suez to ensure that they have appropriate plans in place to minimise any disruption to waste services in the area.
“We will keep residents updated if we become aware of any changes to collections and/or services.”
The council has made an announcement to residents online, saying the dispute “will impact on waste services in the week of Monday 12 June – Sunday 18 June”.
The council added: “Please put out black bins, recycling, food and green waste as normal on your usual collection day.
“Staffing levels for that week are unknown but we will do our best to collect what we can.
“If any items are not collected by 6pm, please bring your bins and containers back in and present them again on your next scheduled collection day.
“If the green bin collection is affected, the subscription period of your garden waste service will be extended.
“To be able to prioritise collection services, the Revive shop at Thornbury Sort It Centre will be closed and container deliveries and bulky waste collections will be suspended.
“We will keep our website updated with information about the services available during the industrial action. Normal collections will resume from 19 June.
“We apologise for any inconvenience.”