THE ALL-OUT continuous strike being taken by Coventry City Council bin lorry drivers – who are members of Unite – are now under way.
A picket line has been set up at the council’s Whitley Depot at 259 London Road, Coventry.
Unite has accused council leaders of reneging on a commitment to make a fresh offer in the dispute, claiming a new offer would be made before today’s strike started.
The all-out strike means was due to mean both residents and businesses would receive no bin collections throughout the whole of February or March.
But on Friday the council announced it would be bringing in a ‘private contractor’ to help collect waste over the coming weeks.
The company chosen – Tom White Waste – is owned by Coventry City Council.
The council’s plan is to provide fortnightly household waste (green lidded bin) collections of waste from private households throughout February and March.
The council came under fire from the Union which claimed the authority was paying those deputising more than the hourly rate they were refusing to pay the drivers involved in the dispute.
Unite claims the agency workers being recruited for Tom White Waste are being offered between £18 and £20 per hour which is in excess of the pay rates currently received by the striking refuse bin collection drivers. It adds the current pay rate for the council’s bin lorry drivers is between £11.49 to £14.37 an hour and says its regrading claim would take bin lorry drivers’ pay to between £14 and £17 an hour.
Coventry City Council has always maintained over the last 12 months the lowest paid driver took home £28,148 which – at 37.5 hours-per-week would work out at £14.40-per hour.
The authority added the average pay bin lorry drivers received over the last 12 months was £34,143 – which would equate to £17.50 per hour.
And it reiterated its claim it was already one of the highest paying local authorities in the West Midlands for Class II HGV drivers, who drive the city’s bin lorries.
Unite said it had called for urgent clarification as it claims Tom White Waste Ltd did not appear to have the necessary traffic and environmental licences to undertake kerbside collections, leading to growing concerns that the safety of residents, refuse collectors and the drivers themselves will be compromised.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “It is shameful that Coventry council reneged on a promise to table a fresh offer which could have ended this dispute.
“Coventry residents should be demanding answers about what on earth the council is playing at.
“They are constantly saying one thing then doing another.”
Speaking on yesterday’s BBC Politics Midlands live, Coventry City Council leader Coun George Duggins appealed to bin lorry drivers not to strike.
He said an offer had been made regarding Christmas working hours – of £4,000 per person – and he added ACAS had not yet come to a conclusion and the council would abide by what it said.
Drop-off points reach 130,000 visits
The 11 drop sites have proved popular with residents, with around 130,000 visits.
They are located at: War Memorial Park, Sowe Common, Hearsall Common, Wellington Street Car Park, the Musilm Resource Centre, Tom White Waste, Cheylesmore Car Park, Wyken Slough, Leicester Row, off Telfer Road and Willenhall Social Club.
A spokesperson added: “It means the council is limited on what else it can offer, as it must be rightly mindful of the duty it has to all of its 4,500-strong workforce and the possibility of future equal pay claims from other trade unions.”
Visit coventry.gov.uk for more on organising a trip to the London Road tip.