The Croydon bins strike, due to start on Thursday in a dispute over “poverty pay”, has been called off after the council’s rubbish contractors, Veolia, finally agreed an improved pay deal for some of their poorest-paid workers.
The strike was due to last for three weeks, in the hottest part of the year, but has been averted after the Unite union, which represents around 100 drivers, loaders and sweepers on the outsourced Croydon Council refuse contract, accepted a much-improved pay offer.
Veolia had been stalling on any agreement over 10 months of negotiations.
But this afternoon Unite announced that their members had voted to accept an improved pay offer worth 8.5per cent and an additional one-off payment £750 – worth an additional 3.4per cent for the lowest paid, to a total of 11.9per cent.
Before this settlement, some of Veolia’s staff were being paid below the London Living Wage, despite that being set as a minimum level for all staff and contractor workers, as announced by Croydon Council in 2014.
In 2020, Veolia was handed a £21million contract “uplift” by Croydon Council. “I can assure you that none of that money has been passed on to benefit any of our members,” according to one source at the union.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham heralded the outcome as a “Unite win”.
This afternoon, she said, “This deal puts much-needed money into our members’ pockets at a tough time.
“Well done to our members for taking a stand and supporting each other. Their solidarity sent a clear message to Veolia that our members were determined to win a better deal on pay.
“Once again, workers can see the very real benefits of belonging to Unite, a union committed to defending and enhancing the jobs, pay and conditions of its members.”
Unite regional officer Clare Keogh said: “This was a significant dispute and Unite will be building on this pay deal in future negotiations with Veolia to further improve our members’ pay and conditions on this contract.
“Going forward it is hoped that there will now be more positive industrial relations with Veolia.”
Often, when unions are in negotiation with operators running outsourced contracts for local authorities, pressure may be brought to bear with the council to avoid industrial action, with tax-payers ultimately putting up extra cash towards a settlement. With Croydon Council being pot-less, it seems unlikely that there would have been any flexibility for that to occur on this occasion.
Certainly, Croydon Council had officially been saying nothing about making any effort to avert a potentially very smelly dispute.
Jason Perry, the Tory Mayor of Croydon, had been notably quiet in public on the situation, but this afternoon he tweeted, “I am pleased to hear that the planned strike by Croydon’s refuse workers is no longer proceeding, I know this will be a great relief to residents.
“Keeping our streets clean is a top priority, and just one part of our journey towards restoring pride in our borough.”
Read more: After decades of wage stagnation, workers have one option
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It has just been reported on the Brighton Evening Argus website that my local refuse collectors in Wealden District have accepted a deal between 24 and 27%. Then are employed by Biffa and have been on strike for six weeks.
I think that a big congratulations should go to all those at Veolia and their courage in sticking to principle. A thank you should also go to Veolia managment for their reasonable and pragmatic action in continuing to find a way foward under such pressure.
However this Council Executive were quiet. Perhaps the contract manager at the Council with his liason at Veolia and their Employee Relations team were busy in the background as you would expect and we residents should thank those silent people for working hard on our behalf.
But “Keeping our streets clean is a top priority, and just one part of our journey towards restoring pride in our borough.”
Mother mercy me – first class flatulent hyperbole!
Anyone walking our streets in the High Street and in the North would weep tears in buckets whilst giggling insanely in despair. If this is what a top priority clean street looks like sadly we are in for a hilarious farce for the next few years. I cannot wait to hear what the other top priorities actually are.
But honestly no disrespect to Mr Perry I think he may be a bit out of touch about what actually happens around here. Maybe he is feeling his way. Perhaps an off the cuff retort whilst under the weather? Perhaps some enlightenment is required?
Amazing that the magic money tree drops the fruit after a good shaking. It looks as if Veolia have been stockpiling it and knew they haven’t been paying the proper rate for years.
I thought dustmen were on strike!!!
It’s been weeks since our bins have been emptied.
Ridiculous Normanton Rd empty one side only!!!!!
We have reported we have prepared bins for the dustmen with no joy!!
Two many lorry’s forward rubbish,waste of money !!!!!
I have reported so many times!!!!!!
Even if the strike had gone ahead, the resulting stink would be nothing compared to that left behind by Tony Newman, Jo Negreedy, Reed, Butler, Scott, Fitzstupid, Thickfrazer and Hall – the particular stink around Fairfield Halls is now being investigated by the Metropolitan Police.
What a shambles.
Katherine Kerswell is now developing her own particular stink in our borough – the recent election fiasco and how she has dealt with redundancies has put Croydon back on the national ‘we haven’t got a clue’ map.