Bin strike action in Coventry is set to extend into February and March in a dramatic escalation over a pay dispute that is seeing rubbish flow out of city bins.
The Unite union has confirmed the news this afternoon following a number of strike days over the Christmas and New Year period. The union has announced an additional 19 days of industrial action on top of the previously planned strikes between January 11 and January 14.
Bin drivers have been striking in the city over issues regarding pay and working conditions and an extension of the industrial action is now set to run until the final week of March.
Bin collections were set to resume as normal on the week beginning January 18.
Strike action will now be taking place on:
- January 18, 21, 26 and 28
- February 2, 4, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 16, 18, 23 and 25
- March 2, 5, 9, 11, 16, 19 and 23
Unite say the decision to extend the strike was made after the council refused to make an improved offer to the drivers and that an offer previously rejected by workers was no longer on the table during negotiations on Tuesday (January 4).
However, Coventry City Council said that talks between themselves, Unite and mediator ACAS did not take place.
A city council spokesman said: “Local representatives from Unite informed us they would not take part in the talks involving ACAS until they had spoken to their membership.
“This could have been arranged in advance of the meeting and the council fears this could be a delaying tactic at a time when more and more disruption will be unfairly felt by Coventry residents.”
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Unite members at Coventry council have been forced to escalate their industrial action due to the council’s total failure to enter into meaningful negotiations.
“Unite is entirely dedicated to protecting the jobs, pay and conditions of its members and will give the workers in Coventry the union’s full support in this dispute with what is supposed to be a Labour council.
“It should be joining with the union to fight the scourge of poverty pay and ending the need to work excessive hours to make ends meet. Other councils have done just that.
“How come Coventry is so intransigent?”
Drivers are currently on the second day of a two day walkout which began yesterday (July 5).
Unite regional officer Simon O’Keefe said: “The strikes will inevitably cause Coventry residents considerable disturbance but this dispute is entirely of the council’s own making.
“Rather than seek a negotiated settlement and ending low pay, the council seems more interested in sending out ever more bizarre communications which are simply rising tensions.
“It is inexplicable why Coventry council seems to believe it is a good thing that its workers are on such low pay rates that they are forced to work unsustainable and excessive hours in order to make ends meet.
“Unite remains willing to return to the negotiating table and resolve this dispute but Coventry council needs to put forward an improved offer on pay for talks to take place.”
There are currently six rubbish drop-off sites in Coventry where people can drop off their waste while bin collections are suspended, which more than 24,500 people have used since the first day they opened on Wednesday December 29.
- Cheylesmore car park (off New Union Street)
- War Memorial Park (main car park)
- Hearsall Common (off Beechwood Avenue)
- Sowe Common car park
- Leicester Row
- Wyken Slough
Speaking to CoventryLive at the waste site in Wyken Slough this afternoon, Andrew Walster, Director of Coventry City Council, acknowledged there will be future strike action and that the council will be releasing communications on how it will affect collections over the next few months over the coming days.
Mr Walster said: “We’ve have notification from Unite of further days [of industial action] in February and March and we’ll be putting communication out over the next few days as to what our plans are for collections.
“These sites will stay as long as we need them though.”
Coventry City Council has been contacted for a comment regarding the new strike dates.
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