Tower Hamlets bin strike off as deal reached over holiday pay

Waste management company Veolia and the trade union Unite have reached a settlement over unpaid holiday pay to refuse workers in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets to ensure streets are clean during the coronavirus crisis.

Refuse workers working for Veolia in Tower Hamlets, where the waste management company holds the refuse, recycling and street cleaning contract, had voted for strike action after being balloted at the start of February over unpaid holiday arrears.

Appartment blocks in Tower Hamlets.
However, in a statement released today (24 March), Unite stated that, in light of the coronavirus outbreak, which is likely to put heavy pressure on council recycling and waste services, finding a resolution to the ongoing dispute had been a “priority” in order to “ensure that streets are clean and rubbish is collected” in Tower Hamlets.

After renewed negotiations brokered by the reconciliation service Acas, Veolia’s settlement over unpaid holiday arrears was accepted by the union, and Unite’s 250 members employed by Veolia are now working overtime to keep the waste service in the borough running.

The dispute over the unpaid holiday arrears for workers, some of whom Unite claimed were owed up to £9,000, had rumbled on since August 2018, when Veolias and Unite had initially reached an agreement. However, Unite claimed that Veolia had tried to get out of paying the arrears by making workers resort to “time-consuming litigation” to claim back the holiday pay.

Commenting on the news, Unite regional officer Ruth Hydon said: “Given the current crisis and the vital role refuse workers carry out in maintaining public hygiene, Unite and Veolia made finding a solution to the industrial dispute a priority.

“Our members have accepted a settlement reached during negotiations between Unite and Veolia and the dispute is now over. Veolia staff are now working overtime across Tower Hamlets to ensure that streets are clean and rubbish is collected.”

A spokesperson for Veolia said: "We can confirm this situation is now resolved."

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