Rugby street cleaners and refuse workers to strike

Striking workers fight for fair pay, as some workers, lone wage earners, turning to local food banks to put food on the family table

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Bin collections and street cleaning in Rugby will grind to a halt from Tuesday (April 26). Members of Unite are taking strike action to demand a significant pay increase as spiralling price rises mean workers are struggling to afford the basics.

The strike centres on the refuse, recycling and street cleansing services at Rugby Borough Council. It begins at just past midnight hours on April 26 and ends on May 10 at 11.3-pm. However, the union has not ruled out further action if a deal has not been reached.

Street cleansers, HGV lorry drivers and loaders will begin all out strike action because their employer, the Tory controlled Rugby Borough Council, has dragged its feet for more than a year instead of hammering out a pay deal. The workers are some of the lowest paid compared to neighbouring councils and to local transport and warehouse workers in the private sector.

The starting salary for a street cleaner in Rugby begins at £17,100 and only reaches £19,200 after five years of increments. The loader’s annual wage begins at £19,200 but only reaches £21,300 after five years while drivers earn £21,300 but their pay only reaches £23,400 after five years.

With inflation reaching a 30-year high and spiralling food and energy costs, the workers are demanding a significant uplift from the council.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “Rugby Borough Council should hang its head in shame. Instead of recognising that a pay increase is an absolute necessity as living costs spiral upwards, the council has dragged its feet for over a year. These workers are now struggling to put food on the table and pay the bills.

“Unite’s members at Rugby Borough Council have their union’s full backing in their fight for decent pay.”

Unite regional officer Zoe Mayou added, “It’s a total disgrace. Some of the workers have even needed to resort to using food banks. With the cost of living crisis set to get worse, the workers face an emergency. Rugby Borough Council needs to deliver a significant pay uplift for the workers.

“After a year of doing nothing the blame for rubbish piling up across Rugby lies squarely with the Tory controlled Borough Council. It’s time to pay these essential workers a decent wage.”

Unite is dedicated to advancing the jobs, pay and conditions of its members and will fight back against any efforts to diminish workers’ living standards.

By Ciaran Naidoo

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