Veolia bin workers strike over unpaid shifts in Cheshire
Bin workers are planning strikes in Cheshire over the Christmas period against their employer, the waste management provider Veolia UK, following dispute over unpaid shifts.
Veolia employees who are also members of Unite, the UK’s largest trade union, will be taking industrial action from Friday 21 December.
The workers, employed at Veolia’s Ditton Road Widnes depot, are on a contract whereby they are paid to undertake five shifts in seven days. Yet, the company do not pay the workers if they work a sixth shift in that seven day period.
With a ballot turnout of 92 per cent, 78.3 per cent were in favour of strike action and action short of strike action. Unite and Veolia did attempt to reach an agreement through last minute negotiations, though none was forthcoming.
The first 24-hour industrial action set to take place on Friday 21 December, and further strikes to be held on Christmas Eve (24 December) and on Thursday 4 January and Sunday 7 January 2019. A series of overtime bans will also be put into place either side of strike days.
Unite regional officer Steven Gerrard said: “We are extremely disappointed with Veolia’s management given that they attended a meeting with Unite on Thursday 5 December 2018 but totally failed to address the concerns of our members.
“As a result, Unite’s workers have absolutely no option but to go ahead with strike action which will begin shortly before Christmas. It simply defies belief that Veolia thinks it is acceptable for workers to be unpaid for undertaking an extra shift.
“If an agreement cannot be reached then strike action will have a serious impact on rubbish collections from a number of well-known high street brands including McDonalds, Boots, Wetherspoons and Asda, which could have serious environmental considerations.
“Unite is committed to exploring all options to resolve the current situation and will remain open to talks to and beyond the strike action, however, the company must come up with a reasonable offer to resolve the dispute.”
This is not the first time that Veolia has been involved in a pay dispute with its workers, with strikes over pay disagreements in 2013 and again in 2015 taking place in Bromley, while more recently, Unite hailed an employment tribunal ruling in June 2017 a ‘landmark victory’ against Veolia, as the company agreed to incorporate overtime pay into annual holiday pay for its refuse workers.