Doncaster Council and Suez express "disappointment" at bin workers' two five day strikes
Doncaster Council and waste contractor Suez have expressed "disappointment" at two planned five-day strikes by bin workers.
Collections across Doncaster are set to stop from August 23 to August 27 and from September 2-6 after Unite members called the strike in response to pay and job cuts at Suez, the private firm employed by Doncaster Council to manage the authority's bin collections.
Nick Browning, general manager for municipal operations at Suez said: “We are disappointed that Unite members have chosen to announce strike action while pay negotiations are still ongoing.
"There is a further meeting scheduled between Suez and Unite officials this Friday, so we are at a loss to explain why Unite are pressing ahead with plans to strike in advance of this.
"Although Unite members employed on our Doncaster contract received a significant pay award last December, after threatening strike action over Christmas, they are now demanding a further 8.8 per cent pay increase as a weighted average across roles.
"Clearly this is unrealistic considering that most in the public sector have seen almost a decade of pay freezes or one per cent annual increases at best.
"Suez has currently offered a generous pay award, which is not conditional on employees sacrificing overtime payments as claimed by Unite.
"Suez has a duty to all its employees to manage the contract in a commercially responsible way and, unfortunately, it is not in Suez’s gift to award large pay increases every time strike action is threatened.
"The dates Unite has chosen to conduct these stoppages are unfortunately designed to have maximum impact on operations and the residents of Doncaster, but our efforts remain focussed on reaching a negotiated position on pay to avoid this action being carried out.”
Doncaster Council has backed Suez and Gill Gillies, Assistant Director of Environment at DMBC, said: “We are disappointed that the trade union members have voted for industrial action at this stage, when negotiations continue between Suez and the unions.
"We would urge all parties to continue discussions to find a resolution to this as soon as possible.”
Unite has warned that Doncaster residents are facing "sustained periods without rubbish collections" as the crisis deepens.
Workers voted 89% in favour of strike action after Suez made a 2 pay cent pay offer, conditional on the removal of guaranteed overtime, which would result in most workers not receiving an increase in pay.
Unite regional officer Shane Sweeting said: “Unite recognises that if the strikes go ahead it will have a major effect on local residents but this action is being taken as a last resort.
“We urge Suez to sit down at the negotiating table, make a reasonable pay offer and withdraw its redundancy proposals which will make the contract undeliverable.”