Coventry bin strikes to escalate

Coventry bin strikes will run into the summer after huge vote for action

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A “catalogue of failures” and “rank incompetence” on the part of Coventry council means the long-running Coventry bin strike will continue into the summer after HGV drivers voted for further industrial action by a huge margin.

94 per cent of the HGV drivers who took part in the ballot voted to renew the mandate for industrial action. All out strike action will recommence on Monday, march 28. The strikes will run through the spring, including during the local elections in May, when 18 of Coventry’s councillors will be elected.

Unite has accused the Labour leader of the council George Duggins, and the other councillors of squandering millions and refusing to attend a single meeting with Unite. The dispute has already cost Coventry council £2.9 million, with costs rising daily, when it would cost just £300,000 to resolve the dispute.

Last week, the council took the outrageous decision to escalate the dispute with Unite by taking the unprecedented step of suspending the union’s shop steward on bogus charges in the middle of the dispute. Peter Randle now faces dismissal but Unite has accused the council of victimisation and has pledged its unwavering support for its shop steward, who has already faced abuse and victimisation during the dispute which has not been addressed by Council managers.

In yet another blunder, councillors are refusing to attend any meetings, discussions or negotiations, failing to take responsibility for their actions and leaving everything to unelected officials.

The strikes began early this year and the 70 HGV drivers have been on all out strike since 31 January in the dispute over low pay. The workers’ basic rate of pay begins at just £22,183 per annum, which is far below what workers receive in the private sector and well below pay rates of neighbouring councils.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “Rank incompetence and a catalogue of failures by Coventry council mean this strike will continue into the summer.

“The dispute could have been easily settled with capable council leaders,” she added. “Instead, George Duggins and the other councillors have scandalously squandered millions and refused to attend a single meeting with Unite.

“The council have inflamed the situation by suspending our shop steward on bogus grounds and they turned the opportunity we had to settle the dispute at Acas into a farce.”

Unite national lead officer Onay Kasab added, “George Duggins and his councillors have failed the people of Coventry and they have failed the workers. It is time for the council to address the underpayment of the drivers. They need to stop this grotesque waste of money in the middle of a cost of living crisis. It’s time to enter into negotiations to end this dispute.”

By Barckley Sumner