North Norfolk bin strike averted after last-minute deal
Strike action among North Norfolk’s refuse and recycling collectors has been called off after last-minute talks between members of the GMB union and Kier Environmental Services.
The strike, which GMB said last week its members in the area had voted ‘overwhelmingly’ for, was due to begin on Monday (24 October), with members intending ‘to stay on strike until the dispute is resolved’.
The action followed what GMB said was a desire for members working for Kier, which owns the contract for North Norfolk District Council’s collections, to be paid the same as workers in neighbouring Borough Council of Kings Lynn and West Norfolk.
According to GMB regional organiser Ivan Mercer, two offers “barely above the minimum wage” had been made and rejected and had left members “feeling bullied and harassed”, a claim refuted by Julian Tranter, Kier’s Managing Director of Environmental Services.
In response, Tranter said that the pay scale – an increase of 2.4 per cent over two years – had been agreed by a number of unions, including GMB, earlier this year and complied with an agreement on public-sector pay.
He added that all of the council’s Kier employees are paid ‘at least the living wage’ and that they had been offered a higher increase of between 3.5-4.2 per cent, which had been rejected by GMB, which was “instead demanding an increase of 20 per cent”.
A revised offer was discussed on 10 October, but rejected by GMB members, which make up 26 of the council’s 106 collection staff, with a ‘continuous’ strike pencilled to start next week.
A statement released by GMB this afternoon (21 October), however, reveals that an agreement has been reached on a two-year deal that will achieve pay parity between workers for the two councils.
Still ‘industrial issues to iron out’
Ivan Mercer, GMB regional organiser said: "I am delighted that Kier were finally able to bring an offer to the table that we could recommend and our members were willing to accept.
“This has been a long negotiation that began in July 2015 and resolved just two days before action was due to begin. I am very proud of the resolve and solidarity shown by our members during this dispute.
“There are still a few industrial relations issues to iron out but I am optimistic that these problems can be resolved. Now that our members have demonstrated to Kier that they are willing to support themselves and each other, it would be foolhardy of the company to dismiss their concerns of bullying taking place at the depot."