Seven day refuse collector strike to go ahead after talks fail

Refuse collectors are set to go on strike. Picture: Tower Hamlets Council

Refuse collectors are set to go on strike. Picture: Tower Hamlets Council - Credit: Archant

Street cleaning and bin collection services are expected to be severely disrupted this week after talks to avert strike action were unsuccessful.

The seven day strike - beginning at 3pm on Monday, March 9 - comes after members of the Unite union voted for industrial action over holiday pay arrears.

The union claims that Veolia - which holds the council's refuse, recycling and street cleaning contract - has not settled a collective holiday pay claim despite reaching an agreement with unions in August last year.

The union says around 150 employees have not received the money, with some owed up to £9,000 in holiday pay.

Around 250 members of Unite were balloted over the prospect, with 96.5 per cent of those who responded voting in favour of a strike. The ballot saw 70pc of those eligible to vote do so.

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A Tower Hamlets Council spokesman said: "The council has been in communication with both parties and urged them to try to reach an agreement in an effort to avoid disruptive strike action. We regret that this was not possible.

"Our contractor has assured us that they will continue to provide a limited service during the period of industrial action but it is likely there will still be significant disruption.

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"We apologise for the inconvenience this will cause and would like to reassure residents that we are working with our contractor in an effort to return to a normal service as soon as possible."

Residents do not need to report individual missed collections during the strike period, with the council being made aware of areas where collections are delayed or missed.

People are being encouraged not to put out items which do not require collecting urgently, such as dry recycling, and hold them back until the following week in order to minimise a build up of waste on the street or in bin stores.

Bulky waste collections will be suspended for the week, with the spokesman adding: "During the period of industrial action, we will need to direct all available resources to maintaining a level of service across the borough."

Normal service is expected to resume from Monday, March 16.

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