MORE than 100 refuse workers will start strike action over pay today, in action set to last three weeks.
Staff working for Sita in Doncaster, who earn just above the national minimum wage, will strike for the next three Fridays and Mondays, in a bid to get their wages in line with the same job in other counties.
Unite members have asked Sita for a £1 per hour increase, in line with drivers in neighbouring Kirklees, who are employed by Sita to do the exact same job.
Those taking part in strike action will be manning picket lines outside the Holmes Depot and the Denaby Depot from 6am today and Monday.
The workers will also continue a ban on overtime, which started last week and is expected to cause chaos with collections of both rubbish and recycling bins.
Chris Weldon, Unite regional officer, said: “The company continues to refuse to engage properly with Unite, leaving our members with no other option than to take industrial action. There is no doubt that Sita can afford to meet the reasonable demands.
“We are ready and willing to return to the negotiating table at a moment’s notice, but we believe that it is Sita’s intransigence that has caused this dispute.
“We regret the impact this will have on refuse collection services and call on management to return to the negotiating table, where this can all be resolved in an amicable way so we can ensure the people of Doncaster receive the service they deserve.”
Nick Browning, SITA UK’s general manager, said in the current climate the firm could only justify a 1.7 per cent increase it had made nationally rather than the 13 per cent being asked for. He added Doncaster workers had received a 2.5 per cent and three per cent increase in 2010 and 2011.
Mr Browning said: “We think the union’s demands for more is unreasonable and it would be irresponsible for us to increase our offer.
“Our priority is to get back to providing a full waste and recycling collection service to the people of Doncaster as quickly as possible and we are doing what we can to resolve this situation.”
Gill Gillies, Doncaster Council’s assistant director of environment added: “Although this dispute is between our contractor and their employees, we are working very closely with the management team at SITA to minimise disruption to residents resulting from the current industrial action.”