By Sophie Squire
Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2805

Refuse workers in Rugby are ready to keep fighting

Reports from disputes around Britain, including Rugby, Wealden, and the Isle of Wight
Issue 2805
Five striking agency refuse workers

Agency staff support the refuse workers strike in Rugby

Refuse workers in Rugby have vowed to keep on striking until their demands are met.  Strikes by Unite union members began on 26 April and were set to finish last week, but now could run until 15 June. Workers rejected an initial offer as it didn’t meet expectations. 

Street cleansers, HGV lorry drivers and loaders have all joined the fight to demand that Rugby council offers them an improved pay deal. The refuse workers are also angry that their pay is among the lowest compared with others in neighbouring councils. 

Around 50 percent of the strikers are agency workers that Unite recruited during the dispute. Campaigning has resulted in the council employing these workers in a banking system, cutting out the agency. 

Jacob, the Unite agency workers’ rep, said, “After a year of doing nothing the blame for rubbish piling up across Rugby lies squarely with the Tory-controlled Borough Council.”

The threat of six days of strikes has forced bosses at the North Somerset Environment Company to offer refuse workers a revised pay deal.

Around 100 refuse workers, who are members of the GMB union, voted to strike earlier this year. Refuse workers in Wealden in Sussex were offered the same pay offer by outsourcer Biffa on their third week of strikes. 

And there was confusion after the bosses said they were committed to negotiations with workers. So far Biffa has not met with the GMB union, despite being asked three times. 

Mark Turner, GMB B50 Branch Secretary, explained that the old offer “isn’t worth a penny” to workers.  Refuse workers gathered for a rally and blocked lorries from leaving the Amberstone depot on Saturday. Strikes could continue until 11 June. 

And bin workers on the Isle of Wight could also strike. Members of the GMB union, outsourced to Amey, want a pay rise to £12.50 an hour for loaders and pickers, and drivers want £13.25 an hour. HGV drivers are asking for £15 an hour. Ballots will close on 27 May. Across Britain, refuse workers are continuing to fight impressive battles against paltry pay. 

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