Huge back pay victory for refuse workers

Unite secures back pay for 40 refuse workers in Sandwell

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Unite has secured a huge pay victory for forty refuse workers winning them substantial back pay.

The refuse workers, employed by employment agency Templink and engaged by Serco on Sandwell council’s outsourced refuse collection contract, will now receive back pay of between £2,000 and £7,000 and Unite is working to ensure that the money is paid before Christmas.

The workers, who have been working on the contract for up to two years, have been paid at a lower rate than permanent staff. Under the agency directive rules they should receive the same rates of pay as permanent staff.

As well as the back pay, the workers will also receive a substantial increase in their hourly rate. Drivers will receive an additional £2.29 an hour, while loaders will see their pay increase by £1.70 an hour.

“This is an excellent victory for this group of agency workers,” said Simon O’Keeffe, Unite regional officer.

“The agency workers undertake exactly the same roles as permanent staff and they deserve to receive the same rates of pay,” he added.

The underpayment case has been championed by local rep Deb Melia, who is a refuse driver. She has been pursuing the underpayment since May this year with Sandwell council. The conciliation service Acas has been involved in the dispute and the workers also made employment tribunal claims.

“This victory demonstrates what can be achieved if agency workers get organised – securing a level playing field and winning fair pay can be obtained,” said Simon.

 “Special tribute must go to Deb Melia, without her hard work it is very unlikely that the affected workers would now be receiving the higher pay rates and back pay that they fully deserve,” he added.

By Barckley Sumner

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