Croydon bin lorry workers call for three-week strike action

Croydon’s going to get a whole lot more stinking this summer, as bin lorry workers are set to go on strike for three weeks in a dispute over what their union calls “poverty pay”.

Rubbish pay: Veolia workers in Croydon are paid significantly less than in neighbouring boroughs

More than 100 workers with rubbish contractors Veolia, employed as drivers, loaders and sweepers on the outsourced Croydon Council refuse contract, will begin strike action next Thursday, June 16.

Their union, Unite, says that the strike will continue until July 8.

“Further strike action could be announced if no progress is made in the dispute,” Unite said in a statement issued yesterday.

Unite said, “The workers are striking over poverty rates of pay, with many workers earning over £7,000 a year less than comparative roles in other London boroughs.”

The bin lorry drivers, who must hold a HGV licence, are paid £12.51 per hour.

Many of the loaders and sweepers receive £10.75 an hour – 30p an hour below the London Living Wage, despite the previous Labour-run council promising in 2014 that all its staff and contractors’ staff would be paid at least the LLW.

“These workers deserve a pay rise and Veolia can well afford to pay it,” said Sharon Graham, Unite’s general secretary.

“It is a disgrace that a company expecting to pocket over £1billion in profits won’t pay the rate for the job and is demanding our workers take a pay cut while inflation soars.

“This is out-and-out corporate greed and we will challenge it all the way. Unite will be giving our members its total support until this dispute is resolved.”

Unite has called on Croydon Council, as the client, to intervene in the dispute to ensure that Veolia pays a fair rate of pay. So far, elected Mayor Jason Perry has been entirely silent on the matter of the impending three-week strike.

As recently as 2020, when Stooge Collins was the Labour councillor in charge of the state of the borough’s streets, he agreed a £21million uplift on Veolia’s contract.

Support: Unite’s Sharon Graham

But by the beginning of this year, with Veolia still using the excuse of a lack of HGV drivers to deliver its contracted service, Croydon Council lodged a formal complaint – a Service Improvement Notice – about the company’s poor delivery record, with missed bin collections a particular issue.

Unite has been in discussions over workers’ pay with Veolia for 10 months. The company has offered an increase of 2.5per cent for drivers and just 2per cent for sweepers and loaders for 2021. Unite said, “The company is also attempting to impose a real-terms pay cut for 2022. The real inflation rate (RPI) is currently 11.1per cent.”

French-owned Veolia is in the middle of a £11.1billion takeover of another waste management company, Suez, and has announced it expects to make a profit of more than £1billion this year.

Unite regional officer Clare Keogh said: “Despite extensive negotiations, Veolia has refused to table anything like an adequate pay offer. As a result, our members are being forced to take strike action as a last resort.

“Even at this late stage strike action and the resulting disruption it will cause can still be avoided by Veolia making an offer that meets members’ expectations.”

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20 Responses to Croydon bin lorry workers call for three-week strike action

  1. Annette Carter says:

    Great! People are already dumping bags of rubbish on top of the bins in Addiscombe Recreation Park (Bingham Park) – a three week strike will just increase fly tipping all over Croydon.

  2. Dave Aude says:

    Swear they’ve been on strike the last 4 years anyway, got to be the dirtiest borough in the entire country. Don’t think we will notice much of a change if they strike for 3 weeks.

  3. Five alive says:

    Terrible company to work for.

    Supervisors ain’t got a clue. Want you out there all day paying you peanuts

  4. Susan Williams says:

    If we are paying this contractor less than other boroughs resulting in the strike in Croydon, who is the person at CC responsible for this and what’s he or she done with the money he or she has saved??

    I pay a substantial council tax bill – that should be enough to cover waste collection!

    I want answers from Kerswell. But I don’t expect them. Because she is an inept CE

  5. Peter Underwood says:

    Veolia make a fortune in profits so it’s shocking that they still still plan to cut the pay of workers who get less than the living wage

    We know how awfully Veolia treat their customers, as we have all suffered for years, and it’s clear they treat their employees just as badly

    People delivering a vital public service deserve far better and I fully support their campaign for a decent wage

  6. Billy James says:

    It makes no difference to me they never empty our bins anyway on a regular basis.

  7. Fiona Timblick says:

    They have cut their crews and left them on a skeleton staff, that is why our rubbish isn’t being picked up on time, you can’t expect a full service with half a crew…

    As usual they are getting the harassment while veolia sit back…. Council and veolia are a shower of 😡

  8. Faith Thomas says:

    Don’t live in Croydon but I am an advocate for justice; Every employee should be paid a living wage at the least. They keep our Streets, Towns, and cities accessible and the air breathable.
    Imagine what it would be like without them. They are necessary to maintain health in our communities.

  9. For low paid workers, inflation is at 10%. Veolia need to offer much more.

  10. Paul Williams says:

    This is absolutely terrible all round. I have friends in Croydon but wonder will I be able to visit anytime soon. Croydon residents are fuming and the staff need paying properly to maintain moral etc. Are those in the hot seat really going to allow this to happen? 👀

  11. Jay says:

    Can’t look any worse the area is in such a state

  12. Ian Kierans says:

    i am amazed. Seriously this council actually committed a S.I.N in writing? How interesting. Made no difference though to the service as yet. It would be interesting to note if they get a rise will the services improve? Unlikely as from what I have found in relation to assisted collections most crews deny they are even aware of the houses that have them across 9 wards looked at so far. And the rat problems photographed are increasing – strangely mostly on the bins of those poorly enforced H.M.Os and those newly built perfectly legal developments. I do hope that Veolia receive no money from Croydon during this strike. and any given already is re-couped. And if they fail to provide a service for a month the contract should end on the grounds of non delivery and frustration of contract. TUPE them to a directly run company instead.

  13. John Kohl says:

    Has anyone had problems trying to report issues with the bin/recycling crews on Croydon Council My Account in the last week? My Account doesn’t seem to be working properly and can’t for the life of me work out why! Thanks

    • Just this week?
      The council’s IT systems, in this respect in particular, have been sub-functional for several years.

      Some believe deliberately so.

      • John Kohl says:

        Thanks, I’d forgotten these problems with their IT had been going on for that long. I’ve been trying for the best part of the last four days to report problems with the bin crews leaving bins in the wrong place. Looks like the Council has “refreshed” bits of the My Account website and now made it completely impossible to report online crew issues/waste spillages/bins left in the wrong place/bin lids left open.

        • Our consistent criticism of the council’s CrapApp has been that, since its first iteration, it has never offered any option for reporting missed bin collections. That’s over the course of eight years.

          That isn’t an IT glitch. It’s no accident.

          It is utterly deliberate.

          • John Kohl says:

            Utterly depressing is what it is! To make matters even worse trying to make an official complaint about the service just takes sooooooooooooooo long. They just don’t seem to care about dealing with complaints quickly.

        • Kevin Croucher says:

          To be fair to their IT system, we used it to report a food bin that the collectors had smashed and new one arrived in about a week.

  14. Ted Flowers says:

    Is this strike going ahead. Can we have an update on please?

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