Bin collectors could strike over long-running pay dispute
- Credit: Archant/Unison
Bin workers in a Norfolk district could go on strike amid a long-running dispute over pay and working conditions.
Refuse collectors from Serco, the company responsible for services in Breckland, may take industrial action if their concerns are not addressed.
The saga also involves grounds and street cleaners, as well as admin staff, who remain at loggerheads with their employers.
A pay rise of between 1pc and 2.4pc is on the table, depending on their role, with a market supplement being offered to some.
A market supplement is a temporary extra payment, paid to bring an employee's salary up to market rate.
Members of the trade union Unison within Serco's Breckland team are currently voting in a consultative ballot on the offer, which is expected to be rejected.
A clear vote to reject will result in another ballot on whether to strike.
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Unison convenor Nigel Beiley said Serco contractors were "rightfully angry".
He added: "They keep going through wind, rain and global pandemics to keep our streets clean, bins collected and grassy areas tidy.
“To now be offered a real-terms pay cut, with a market supplement that could be snatched away on bosses’ whim, is a kick in the teeth.
“After weeks of negotiation, staff are voting on whether to accept this offer or move to an industrial action ballot.
"No-one wants to strike but, unless Serco can come back with a meaningful and permanent pay rise, I fear we’ll be left with no choice."
Serco has been plagued by problems in recent months, with bins in Breckland going unemptied for several days on a number of occasions.
The issues have largely been put down to the well-documented shortage of HGV drivers across the country.
But in August, it became clear agency workers were being offered higher pay than bin lorry drivers employed by the waste contractor.
Breckland councillor Terry Jermy said he understood staff grievances.
He added: "I am amazed how little Serco's workers get paid for the work they do, and I agree with Unison that the pay increase being offered is not sufficient.
"If you look at it in the context of the National Insurance increase, it is effectively ruled out straight away. It completely ignores the cost-of-living increase and everything else we've got going on."
Serco has been contacted for comment.