Newham bin workers ballot for strikes over council’s £21,000 pay robbery

Bin workers on strike in Birmingham

Bin workers on strike in Birmingham   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Refuse workers employed by Newham Council in east London could have lost more than £20,000 each in the last decade in a dispute over grading.

The Labour council has failed to progress them through the grading structure which should, as agreed, have commenced 12 years ago in 2007-08. Unite calculates the potential loss of pay amounts to £1,760 a year.

General union Unite will ballot the 45 workers for strike action. The ballot begins on 23 April and closes on 21 May.

Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said: “Newham council has repeatedly failed to live up to the agreement it signed more than a decade ago for progression on the national pay scales if the refuse workers had satisfactory appraisals.

“It is a stain on this council’s reputation that it has ducked and dived in avoiding honouring this agreement – the grievance complaint that Unite lodged on this issue was not heard until June 2018.

“The council bosses have admitted that they failed to implement the scheme. But, curiously, they have not been able to say why they agreed to it in the first place when they had no intention of implementing it.

Back pay

“We estimate that, depending on individual circumstances, refuse workers could have lost up to £21,000 in back pay – a considerable sum for this relatively low-paid group of workers who are out in all weathers.

“This is an issue of basic trust, and if the employer is allowed to get away with not implementing the agreement, then it will be emboldened to do so again and again – eventually affecting every council employee adversely.

“Time after time, we have asked the council to implement the scheme, but it has continuously declined to. And that’s why we’re holding this strike ballot, to show that employers can’t ride roughshod over freely entered into agreements to the detriment to our members.”