COVENTRY City Council is calling on Unite to end the bin lorry driver strikes after independent body ACAS ruled they should be paid a Grade 5 salary – which the authority says they are already been paid.
ACAS looked at the process that came to the original decision and found that it had been ‘undertaken in a fair and open manner’.
The council added the decision further evidenced what it had been saying all along – ‘that it already pays bin lorry drivers a good wage that is one of the highest in the West Midlands’.
Regardless of the finding, both the council and Unite had agreed to be bound by the decision. Therefore, the council is calling on the strike to be called off immediately.
Unite balloted their bin lorry driver members on two issues – a grade increase and Christmas working.
ACAS has ruled on the grade increase and an offer remains on the table for a £4,000, tax-free payment to buy-out a 1999 agreement that includes a number of issues such as Christmas week working and collecting side waste.
The council understands Unite has recommended this offer to their membership but has not done so formally until the pay increase issue was resolved.
The council said it remained open to dialogue with Unite and was willing to once again offer a previously rejected proposal to increase the pay of drivers at the bottom-end of the grade, so that no driver starts on less than £12.45 per hour. This is an increase from the original bottom of the scale of £11.50.
The council said the real victims – in the dispute it never wanted and always tried to lawfully resolve – had been Coventry residents.
The council apologises for the inevitable disruption the strike has caused despite the mitigation measures put in place such as drop-off sites.
It urges Unite to call off the strike and allow the bin lorry drivers to return to work, so it can once again provide a service all Coventry residents expect and deserve.
The Observer has contacted Unite and is awaiting a response.