Many of Rugby council's refuse, recycling and street cleansing workers could be about to go on strike for two weeks

Scores of workers from Rugby Borough Council’s refuse, recycling and street cleansing services may go on strike for two weeks starting on Tuesday, April 26 and ending on May 10.

File image.
File image.

Members of the above-mentioned council services who belong to the Unite Union voted in favour of strike action as the result of a pay dispute with national origins.

If it goes ahead – the strike would go on each day within the above dates, ending on May 10.

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It is not yet clear how much disruption the action will cause to the specified services, though Rugby council said they will publish more information on possible disruptions shortly.

The Advertiser understands that not all workers in the refuse, recycling and street cleansing services are Unite members – so it is possible that some crews will still be available.

In February the National Joint Council (NJC) for Local Government Services – a negotiating body representing 1.4 million local government and school workers across the country – came to an agreement whereby workers from 300 councils across the UK would receive a 1.75 per cent pay rise – backdated to April last year.

But Unite does not believe this increase is enough – and members in Rugby and elsewhere in the country are planning strikes.

The intention behind the action in Rugby appears to be to prompt the council to arrange a bigger pay increase on a local level.

But a spokesperson for Rugby council said such negotiations would not be possible under the present arrangement with the NJC.

Unite regional officer Zoe Mayou said: “The 1.75 per cent increase imposed by the council is a slap in the face for workers who were on the front line keeping the residents of Rugby safe during the pandemic.

"The pay offer does next to nothing to alleviate the cost of living crisis faced by these essential workers.”

“It is not true that the council is unable to enter pay negotiations with its own employees.

"The LGA’s proposal is exactly that, a proposal. The council can disregard it and table its own offer.

"It’s time to pay these essential workers a decent wage. This industrial action can still be avoided if Rugby council puts forward a deal our members can accept.”

A spokesperson for Rugby council said: “Rugby Borough Council has a constructive relationship with Unite and in February completed a ‘benchmarking’ review of our refuse loader and street cleansing roles, comparing the council’s pay with the pay offered for similar roles by 19 other employers, both other local councils and companies in the private sector.

“The council’s pay for both roles was found to be above the median pay offered by the other companies and, in many cases, in the upper quartile.

“The findings of the benchmarking review complement the favourable general terms and conditions the council offers in relation to employer pension contributions, annual leave and sickness entitlement.

“However, the council remains committed to working constructively with Unite and, following the benchmarking review, agreed in February to review all relevant job descriptions to ensure pay grades reflect the duties and responsibilities each role entails.

“We have committed to completing this review by the end of May 2022.”

Rugby council is expected to publish more information on possible service disruptions here: www.rugby.gov.uk/servicedisruption