A new poll reveals that over two thirds of Coventry’s residents back the striking HGV drivers’ “reasonable” pay demands.
The poll comes as striking bin workers from Coventry and their supporters are set to stage a march and rally in Coventry today (Tuesday May 3) from 11am, beginning at 1 Friargate and finishing at Coventry Council House CV1 5RR.
The findings come in a survey conducted for Unite the union by leading pollsters Survation.
A thumping nine in ten (92 per cent) of Coventry’s residents say that solving the strike by HGV drivers which is disrupting rubbish collection across the city should be a priority for the council.
And a clear majority (77 per cent) of Coventry residents want the council to reach a pay settlement to end the dispute, including 86 per cent of people who voted Labour in the 2019 General Election.
67 per cent say that the drivers’ call to be paid the market rate for their jobs, similar to that paid to the drivers in nearby Birmingham, is a reasonable one. Just 23 per cent of residents say such a rate would be unreasonable.
In a stark warning to councillors, the poll also reveals that most residents aged over 55, the cohort most likely to turnout in the forthcoming elections, have an unfavourable opinion of the Labour council. A majority of 35-54 year olds also share this view. Only residents aged between 18 and 34, an age group with a lower comparable voter turnout, had a more favourable view, however, only around half view the council favourably.
The residents also delivered an unequivocal message to council leader George Duggins. 77 per cent believe that he should personally attend meetings to assist in resolving the dispute.
Commenting, Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “It’s quite clear that the people of Coventry are well and truly fed up with the council’s conduct during this dispute. Overwhelmingly, they say that the council should settle this dispute as a priority, and they back the drivers’ reasonable demand to be paid the rate for the job.
“Only a foolish council would ignore such clear and direct instructions from their own residents,” she added.
“These calls are being made by the people who pay the wages of council leader George Duggins,” Graham went on to say. “So he should respect their wishes and solve this dispute. It’s not complicated, just pay the rate, as they do in Birmingham, and get these drivers back to work.”
The 70 HGV drivers have been on all out strike since January 31 over low pay. The workers’ basic rate of pay begins at just £22,183 per annum, below pay rates of neighbouring councils.
The dispute has already cost Coventry council millions, with costs rising daily as it pays an alternative service to break the strike. It would cost just £300,000 to resolve the dispute.
By Ciaran Naidoo