Unite hails pay victory after reaching deal with council, ending four weeks of bin strikes

Collections of recycling and garden waste bins resumed on Tuesday after the Unite union reached an agreement with Rugby council to stop strike action after more than four weeks.

Workers holding a protest outside the town hall. Photo: Unite.
Workers holding a protest outside the town hall. Photo: Unite.

On the evening of Thursday, May 26, Rugby council leader Cllr Seb Lowe confirmed with the Advertiser that an agreement between the council and the union and been reached and that strike action would end – and the next morning a spokesperson for Rugby council issued a statement to outline the agreeement.

Cllr Lowe said: “We welcome Unite’s agreement to the terms, conditions and proposals which the council has put forward.

Sign up to our daily WarwickshireWorld Today newsletter

"Nevertheless we remain disappointed that Unite chose to recommend industrial action in dispute relating to the nationally agreed pay increase that came into effect from April last year."

The strikes were set to go on until mid June, but on May 17 there was some hope when Rugby council said they had made a new pay offer to the staff.

That offer would have seen the maximum pay available to drivers to rise to £30,940 and £24,587 for bin loaders.

This extra money for loaders was offered on the condition that perform other services once their bin runs have been completed, rather than going home early.

The Unite union rejected this offer, taking issue with the offer to loaders and, though they declined to explain to this newspaper exactly why, council sources suggested that the union believed loaders should still be allowed to go home early once their runs had been completed.

A council spokesperson explained the deal which was eventually struck, they said: “Additional payments for refuse drivers paid since December to be made permanent. Total pay available will rise to up to £30,940

“Changes to overtime payments and tasks allocated to refuse loaders. Total pay available will rise to up to £24,018.

“An uplift in pay grade and additional payments for street cleaners and drivers, reflecting increased responsibilities since last review. Total pay available will rise to up to £24,587.”

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Workers in Rugby were not prepared to accept poverty pay.

"With the support of Unite they took matters into their own hands. The result is a significant improvement to their pay and conditions.

"Our union is prepared to fight for workers during the cost of living crisis.”