19 April 2021 by Robyn White

Thurrock slams union claims of refuse crew pay cut

Thurrock council has dismissed claims from a union that it intends to cut the annual salary of refuse workers, as a strike over a proposed pay review enters its second week.

Thurrock’s in-house waste crews are walking out from 9am on week days

Refuse workers in Thurrock began strike action on 13 April, with walk-outs scheduled from 9am every working day until the 7 May, meaning that recycling in the area will not be collected for three weeks.

It follows claims from trade union Unite that the council intends to make “brutal” cuts of between £2,000 to £3,500 a year, which it said would affect refuse workers, highway maintenance and street cleaning services.

However, the conservative-run council confirmed to letsrecycle.com that cuts will not affect the annual salary of staff, but staff allowances, which includes overtime, bank holidays, and night shifts.

It added that this will also occur for the “vast majority” of council workers, not just those in the waste service.

In a statement, the council said it remains “extremely disappointed” that Unite is taking its members out in this “unnecessary, disruptive and potentially damaging action”, considering that a consultation into the pay review is still underway with three trade unions and staff.

During the strike, residual waste collections will be prioritised to “minimise the impact of the strike for residents”.

Residents have been asked to put food waste and smaller items of garden waste in with general waste and compress all dry recycling as “much as possible” so it is ready for when collections restart.

‘Simply untrue’

A statement from the council said: “Continued claims that the council is cutting the annual salary of staff who work in any council service are simply untrue. Proposed changes will impact allowances that staff receive across the council, not just those in the waste service, and for the vast majority the impact of the Pay Review overall is positive.”

“Overall the Pay Review, including the current proposed changes to allowances, result in the majority of council staff being better off financially than they were before the pay review began.

Discussions between Thurrock council and all three Trade Unions and directly with staff continue; as part of the consultation the council will look at agreeing an approach to compensate any council staff who may end up impacted negatively overall by the review.”

‘Council heroes’

However, the Union said that it has given the council “months” to rethink the pay cuts and claims that it will result in workers “struggling to make ends meet”.

Unite regional officer Michelle Cook said: ”Unite will not accept these proposals to slash the pay of these council heroes who have provided essential services to the residents of Thurrock throughout this pandemic.”

Essex-based Thurrock council runs an in-house waste collection service.

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