Unite's Coventry refuse workers set for strike over 'fire and rehire' claims - The Coventry Observer

Unite's Coventry refuse workers set for strike over 'fire and rehire' claims

Coventry Editorial 8th Dec, 2023   0

COVENTRY Council has been told by Unite the Union to expect strike action from its refuse workers after it claimed the authority’s cabinet had voted to move forward with an ‘abhorrent’ plan to fire and rehire them.

Union chiefs claim the council’s plans to fire and rehire the workers was an attempt to fight equal pay claims by GMB members by ending industry standard ‘task and finish’ provisions for refuse workers.

Unites refuse loaders and drivers said they voted for strike action earlier this year following the emergence of the plan.

A union spokesperson said its position was to demand and fight for equal pay, but not at the cost of other workers, and called for a levelling up so ‘all workers genuinely benefit.’

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “It is frankly abhorrent that Coventry’s Labour council is now using fire and rehire tactics on its own workers. Using task and finish as an excuse for the council’s wider financial woes is absurd and going to these extremes to end it and engage in a race to the bottom on employment is completely unacceptable.

“Instead of trying to ensure that those on the worst contracts stay on them, they should be equalising the disparities between employees by levelling up. Unite never accepts attacks on our members’ jobs, pay or conditions and Coventry council can expect imminent strike action.”

A Council spokesperson said: “As a Council, we must ensure we’re deploying our resources in a way that ensures that we’re doing the best job we can and providing the best services for our residents.

“Our waste service is full of employees who work hard. However, we believe it can and should be even more efficient which is why we’re proposing these changes – to achieve best in class.

“Crucially, these changes allow us to keep the service in-house. Other local authorities have outsourced their waste services in recent years but that wasn’t a route we wanted to take.

“By avoiding outsourcing, staff will remain council employees with the proper benefits that brings – fair pay for a fair day’s work.

“We hope things won’t come to the point of strike action, but we also want to reassure residents that if we go get to that point, we will do all we can to keep disruption to a minimum.

“We will continue to talk with all trade unions to ensure that we achieve a fair resolution for all employees that means we can continue our journey to a best-in-class service.”

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