Bin strikes in Coventry 'inevitable' after talks collapse between Unite and Coventry City Council

HGV refuse lorry drivers employed by Coventry City Council voted for strike action last week. Credit: BPM Media

Bin strikes in Coventry are 'inevitable' according to Unite the union, after it says talks with Coventry City Council have collapsed.

HGV refuse lorry drivers employed by Coventry City Council voted for strike action last week.

The city council has also branded claims from the union that it's "making threats" and "refusing to negotiate" as completely untrue.

Members of Unite the union have voted for industrial action almost a year after a seven-month fight for better pay and working conditions ended.

The latest row is about a move to scrap a condition that allows refuse workers to leave work when collection rounds are finished - rather than stay until the end of the working day.

Coventry City Council says continuing with this practice will lead to more equal pay claims. It says it aims to minimise disruption around the strikes.

Unite said the council threatened refuse workers with "significant cuts to their terms and conditions", whilst also "refusing to negotiate in any meaningful way." 

The city council says those remarks are "totally untrue".

Streets in Coventry had household waste overflowing onto the streets during the strike in May 2022. Credit: BPM Media

Sharon Graham, Unite General Secretary, said the Council's "race to the bottom agenda for its workers has been laid bare.

"The Council agenda is not about genuine equality, it is instead about equalising the misery. It is prepared to severely attack terms and conditions so it can keep down pay and conditions for staff who are on even worse contracts.

"This kind of levelling down and anti-worker behaviour is completely unacceptable, especially for a so-called Labour council. Unless the council climbs down from these atrocious plans, strike action is inevitable."

Coventry City Council says it's 'totally untrue' that it is refusing to negotiate and making threats. Credit: BPM Media

A spokesperson for Coventry City Council told ITV News Central:

"It is totally untrue that we are refusing to negotiate and we are not issuing threats.

“What is true is that out of over 70 drivers, only were 42 were Unite members of which only 19 voted for strike action.  

“If we do not end task and finish then we will have a yearly bill which can only lead to job cuts and cuts in services. This would be terrible news for employees and for Coventry residents.

“We believe the way through this is by negotiation so it is bitterly disappointing that the union appears to be taking its members towards strike action once again. They left yesterday's meeting not willing to talk further. 

“If we do get to the point of strike action we know this will cause disruption for our residents and want to reassure everyone that we will do all we can to minimise the disruption this will cause as well as continuing to work with all unions to resolve these issues."