Waste collection crews employed by Veolia in Sheffield are threatening continued strike action this month, following a 24-hour strike yesterday (17 October) in a dispute over pay rises. Waste collections were halted for the day.
The GMB trade union, which represents the crews, has said strike action may continue until Veolia agrees to “sit down and negotiate a deal.”
A dispute has arisen over a renegotiation of pay rates in which the union has asked for a 2% pay rise in 2016 for workers. The waste management company is offering 1.5% this year and 1.5% the next.
Veolia has apologised for disruption to services and said it will be working with a reduced number of crews.
This marks the third strike by crews Sheffield this year, with a 24-hour action held on 5 October over the pay dispute, and a one-day strike on 1 April over claims of “increasingly severe” management practices (see letsrecycle.com story).
Peter Davies, regional officer for the GMB, told letsrecycle.com: “The workers have pitched their pay claim at a level they know the company can afford. Veolia have an absolute waste management monopoly in Sheffield. Despite local authority cuts Veolia have seen no cuts in their profits.”
And, he made further claims. “Rather than sit down and negotiate, Veolia have decided to bring workers in to break the overtime ban and break the strike.”
Mr Davies added: “There will be two more strikes next week and we will increase this strike action week on week until they sit down and negotiate a deal.”
Two half day strikes will take place next Tuesday and Thursday, and a large protest is planned on Saturday outside Veolia’s Lumley Street depot in Sheffield.
Sheffield city council has apologised to residents for inconvenience caused by the cancellation of collections, advising those whose collections have been missed to present waste the following week instead. Recycling and green waste will still be collected, although the council has warned it may be collected later in the week. All Household Waste Recycling Centres will remain open.
Cllr Bryan Lodge, Cabinet Member for Environment at Sheffield city council, said: “We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause and we are working closely with Veolia so that this dispute can be brought to a satisfactory conclusion as quickly as possible.”
In a statement released on Friday (14 October), Veolia said it “will be making every attempt to collect all recycling (blue bin and box) waste as normal.”
It continues: “Veolia apologises for any disruption and we would like to reassure residents that we are working hard to minimise the impact of the strike action on collections in the City.
“We will be working with a reduced number of collection crews, and may take more time than usual to collect resident’s containers.”