Doncaster refuse workers call off strikes after successful pay negotiations

Doncaster’s refuse workers have called off their plans to strike over pay disputes with waste management company SUEZ following a successful outcome to negotiations on Monday.

The strikes – which were organised by refuse workers who are members of the union Unite – were planned as two five-day walkouts beginning this Wednesday (23 August) and 2 September, in response to claims that SUEZ offered employees a two per cent pay rise only if guaranteed overtime was removed – a move which would see most workers receive no wage increase.

It was also reported that SUEZ was planning job cuts, with the company subsequently announcing that it was looking at making over 100 workers redundant by October.

However it was announced this week that a long-term pay deal was arranged in negotiations between SUEZ and Doncaster Unite members on Monday, with the workers agreeing to cancel their intended strike action.

Commenting on the negotiations, Nick Browning, General Manager for Municipal Operations at SUEZ recycling and recovery UK said: “I am pleased to be able to say that a long-term pay deal was reached between SUEZ and Doncaster Unite members yesterday afternoon (Monday 21 August). This means that strike action, which was planned to begin on Wednesday, is avoided and it will be business as usual.

“In addition to securing a pay award for 2017, the long-term deal struck yesterday also sets in place a sustainable pay mechanism for up to ten years – linked to the cost of living. This was designed to be fair and provide certainty to all parties moving forward.

“We would like to thank the residents of Doncaster for their patience and understanding while these negotiations have been ongoing.”

Planned redundancies could see strike action continued

While SUEZ celebrates the long-term deal, however, Unite has warned that further industrial action is likely if an agreement is not reached with the contractor over proposals to make over 100 of the 250 strong workforce redundant.

Unite Regional Officer, Shane Sweeting, said: “This deal has dramatically improved the wages of our members and means many of them are being paid above poverty pay rates for the first time. Residents of Doncaster will be relieved that their refuse collection will not be seriously disrupted by strike action this week.

“However until Suez withdraws the threat to make over 100 refuse workers compulsorily redundant the possibility of industrial action this autumn remains very much on the table.”

The union says that talks will begin at Acas on Friday (25 August) to allow for detailed negotiations to take place to discuss the new Doncaster refuse contract which will include ‘different collection methodologies, frequencies and collection crews’.

Unite’s Acting National Officer for Local Authorities Jim Kennedy added: “This has been a difficult and complicated dispute; our members have been resolute in winning pay justice.

“It is important to recognise and thank the support that Unite has received from local politicians and community leaders in reaching a deal on pay and brokering talks on the future of the contract. This has assisted in the planned strikes being called off.”

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