Refuse collectors set for seven day strike amid holiday pay row
PUBLISHED: 12:00 26 February 2020 | UPDATED: 12:14 26 February 2020
Bins across the borough are set to go uncollected for a week as refuse collectors go on strike over holiday pay arrears.
Rubbish collections and street cleaning services are due to be suspended for seven days, beginning at 3pm on Monday, March 9, as a result of the walk-out.
Around 250 members of the Unite union were balloted over the prospect of industrial action, 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.
Unite 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.
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Unite regional officer Ruth Hydon said: "Veolia has caused these strikes by attempting to weasel out of paying the substantial holiday arrears it owes staff.
"The company now has to answer to Tower Hamlets residents who will be understandably angry at having to put up with overflowing bins and piles of rubbish."
A spokeswoman for Veolia said: "Following discussions, we are disappointed to have been notified by Unite that they intend to proceed with industrial action in Tower Hamlets.
"We are in ongoing dialogue with Unite to see if this matter can be resolved and we ask that Unite works with Veolia as part of the dispute resolution procedure which involves working with ACAS, prior to any industrial action taking place."
A Tower Hamlets Council spokeswoman said the authority was aware of the planned strike, adding: "It concerns a dispute between Veolia and its workforce and is not related to our plans to bring our waste and recycling service in house later this year.
"Residents can be assured that we are working with Veolia to understand the likely impact of the proposed industrial action and to ensure that they put contingency plans in place. However, we hope these will not be needed.
"We would urge both sides to come together to try and resolve the dispute before it has any impact on our residents."