The redundancy payments’ dispute at Dacorum borough council in Hertfordshire, which has seen delays in the collection of dustbins, is set to escalate with more industrial action.
Unite said that the council had deliberately ratcheted up the dispute when it made nine compulsory redundancies in the team that looks after cleaning-up adventure playgrounds.
The council has voted to cut compensation payments to staff who are made redundant from 2.2 times the weekly wage for each completed year, down to 1.5 times of the weekly wage for each completed year.
Unite believes that the council’s hard line on redundancy payments is part of a ‘hidden agenda’ to prepare the refuse service, which covers Hemel Hempstead, Berkhamsted and Tring, for Carillion-style privatisation.
Unite and Unison members will hold a protest rally that will take place at the Civic Centre, Hemel Hempstead HP1 1DN on Wednesday (April 18) at 6.45pm
The trade unions agreed at a meeting on Friday (April 13) to further industrial action which includes a number of Saturdays prior to, or following the forthcoming bank holidays not being worked due to the ongoing overtime ban which is due to run until the middle of June.
“The council has adopted a deliberately provocative stance by making nine employees who run the adventure play grounds compulsorily redundant,” said Unite regional officer Richard Gates.
“It has also rubber stamped a serious cut in redundancy payments.
“The evidence increasingly points to the council making the service look ‘attractive’ for Carillion-style outsourcing – and we know where that led. If such a course were adopted, refuse services for Dacorum residents will quickly deteriorate.
“At the meeting on Friday, it was agreed to hold a demonstration outside the planned council meeting, and for members of both unions to participate in further overtime ban actions at weekends leading up to and following the May bank holidays,” he added.
“I have said to the council numerous times that redundancy pay is given to employees not so they can go on a luxury holiday, but so they can continue to put food on the table for their family until they can secure another job.
“Therefore, this reduction in redundancy pay, running into hundreds of pounds, is completely unacceptable to our members. We won’t tolerate this race to the bottom.
“The trade unions have made it clear to the employer that the door is always open for discussions on this issue, something the council has repeatedly turned down,” Gates noted.
“Until we have constructive talks and reach a fair settlement, this dispute will escalate with bin collections increasingly delayed with all the public health hazards that, unfortunately, may ensue.”
Unite represents 40 drivers and loaders who voted by 90 per cent for both strike action and industrial action short of a strike i.e. an overtime ban.