Members of Unite employed by waste management provider, Veolia UK, in Cheshire, are set to begin a series of strikes beginning on Friday 21 December, in a dispute over unpaid shifts.
The workers, who are employed at the company’s Ditton Road Widnes depot, are employed on a contract which requires them to undertake five shifts in seven days, Unite says. It says the workers are not paid if they work a sixth shift in a seven day period.
Veolia has disputed this, saying it has a payment system guaranteeing 48 hours pay per week, even if the full 48 hours are not worked.
The result of the industrial action ballot, delivered a turnout of 92% with 78.3% in favour of strike action and action short of strike action. Unite says it undertook a “last ditch” attempt to avert strike action but the talks failed to reach a resolution.
The first 24 hour strike will be held just before Christmas on Friday 21 December with further strikes also called for Christmas Eve (24 December) and then on Thursday 4 and Sunday 7 of January 2019. A series of overtime bans will be in place either side of strike days.
Unite regional officer Steven Gerrard – “If an agreement cannot be reached then strike action will have a serious impact on rubbish collections from a number of well-known high street brands including McDonalds, Boots, Wetherspoons and Asda, which could have serious environmental considerations.”
The commercial companies, located throughout Cheshire, who will be affected by the strike action include household names McDonalds, Boots, Wetherspoons and Asda. The non-collection of waste at the outlets is likely to swiftly cause environmental health concerns, the union says.
Unite regional officer Steven Gerrard said: “We are extremely disappointed with Veolia’s management given that they attended a meeting with Unite on Thursday 5 December 2018 but totally failed to address the concerns of our members.
“As a result, Unite’s workers have absolutely no option but to go ahead with strike action which will begin shortly before Christmas.
“It simply defies belief that Veolia thinks it is acceptable for workers to be unpaid for undertaking an extra shift.
“If an agreement cannot be reached then strike action will have a serious impact on rubbish collections from a number of well-known high street brands including McDonalds, Boots, Wetherspoons and Asda, which could have serious environmental considerations.
“Unite is committed to exploring all options to resolve the current situation and will remain open to talks up to and beyond the strike action, however the company must come up with a reasonable offer to resolve the dispute.”
Phil Gilmour, Regional Director Veolia UK said: “Veolia disputes that workers are not paid for hours that they work – we have a payment system guaranteeing 48 hours pay per week, even if the full 48 hours are not worked.
“It is disappointing that the Union is planning industrial action, especially as this matter continues to be discussed with National Officers of all the Trade Unions involved. The next meeting is scheduled at ACAS on Tuesday, 11th December.
“In the event that the industrial action takes place, we will make every effort to mitigate disruption to our customers.”