Coventry bin strikes ‘inevitable’ after talks collapse

Council confirms attack on workers’ terms and conditions and refuses to negotiate

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Coventry council has threatened its refuse workers with significant cuts to their terms and conditions and is refusing to negotiate in any meaningful way, Unite said on Monday (July 31).

The threats were issued to Unite during talks with the council this afternoon, which subsequently collapsed.

More than 40 HGV refuse lorry drivers employed by Labour-controlled Coventry council voted for strike action in response to plans to end industry standard ‘task and finish’ provisions. The attacks are part of the council’s attempts to fight equal pay claims by GMB members.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “Coventry council’s race to the bottom agenda for its workers has been laid bare. The Council agenda is not about genuine equality, it is instead about equalising the misery. It is prepared to severely attack terms and conditions so it can keep down pay and conditions for staff who are on even worse contracts. This kind of levelling down and anti-worker behaviour is completely unacceptable, especially for a so-called Labour council. Unless the council climbs down from these atrocious plans, strike action is inevitable.”

During the first half of 2022, Coventry’s HGV refuse lorry drivers went on strike for six months to secure a reasonable pay rise. The council unsuccessfully spent £9.4m trying to break the strike – an amount that dwarfed the costs of actually settling the pay claim – and was heavily criticised by Unite.

Unite national lead officer Onay Kasab added, “Unite went into talks today with an open mind and was prepared to negotiate. Unfortunately, rather than talk, the council issued ultimatums and threats and refused to negotiate in any meaningful way. It is clearly intent on disregarding Labour principles and forcing wages and T&Cs downwards for both the refuse workers and its other staff. Negotiations have collapsed and Unite will be announcing strike action in due course.”

By Ryan Fletcher