Newham refuse workers to strike

Long hot summer for Newham as bin collections face disruption, with 99% of union members backing strike action

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Bin collections in the London Borough of Newham will grind to a halt from Saturday 27 August. Members of Unite are taking strike action to demand a significant pay increase as spiralling price rises mean the essential workers face an impending financial emergency.

99 per cent of the workers who took part in the ballot backed strike action on an 81 per cent turn out.

The workers are paid far less than refuse workers in neighbouring Hackney and Greenwich. For example an operative in Newham earns £22,850 compared to £24,763 for a worker in Greenwich doing the same work.

130 loaders, sweepers and drivers employed by the London Borough of Newham will take strike action between Saturday 27 August and Saturday 3 September with more action to follow unless a deal is reached.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “Our members are essential for keeping the streets of Newham clean. It’s wrong that they are paid almost £2000 less than workers in neighbouring councils.

“The workers have Unite’s backing until they get a fair pay increase.”

In 2021 the workers got a 1.75 per cent pay deal. With inflation reaching a 30-year high at 11.8 per cent (RPI) and spiralling food and energy costs, the workers are demanding a significant uplift from the council to bring them in line with the pay of workers in neighbouring councils like Hackney and Greenwich. .

Steve Edwards, Unite regional officer added, “Newham Borough Council still have time to avoid a bin strike during one of London’s hottest summers. The blame for this dispute lies squarely with the council when there is such a gaping hole in the workers’ pay packets. It’s time to reach a fair deal which recognises the important contribution the crews make to the borough.

Unite’s national lead officer, Onay Kasab noted, “Fair pay for refuse workers has been a key campaign for Unite’s Local Government Combine, leading directly to wins such as those in Coventry and Rugby. We will now be working to ensure we win at Newham and fight on to win fair pay for all refuse workers.”

By Ciaran Naidoo

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