Refuse workers in Doncaster will not strike today (23 August), following the success of negotiations between Unite and SUEZ.
SUEZ and members of Unite employed by SUEZ in Doncaster have been involved in a dispute over pay and potential job cuts.
The first strike was scheduled to begin today (Wednesday 23 August) until Sunday 27 August. A further period of strike action was set to occur from Saturday 2 September finishing on Wednesday 6 September.
The dispute over pay occurred after SUEZ offered workers a 2% increase, conditional on the removal of guaranteed overtime, which Unite said would leave worker’s pay “frozen”.
“In addition to securing a pay award for 2017, the long-term deal struck yesterday also sets in place a sustainable pay mechanism for up to ten years – linked to the cost of living. This was designed to be fair and provide certainty to all parties moving forward.”
According to Unite, the dispute deepened as SUEZ announced it is looking to “effectively halve” the 250 strong workforce by October and is “intent on making over 100 workers redundant”, Unite says. Unite says it is currently preparing to launch a separate industrial action ballot over the job cuts.
Unite met with the Doncaster mayor’s office this week to seek the council’s support in resolving the dispute.
SUEZ announced that, following a successful outcome to negotiations, the proposed strike action relating to pay has now been avoided.
Nick Browning, general manager for municipal operations at SUEZ recycling and recovery UK said: “I am pleased to be able to say that a long-term pay deal was reached between SUEZ and Doncaster Unite members yesterday afternoon (Monday 21 August).
“This means that strike action, which was planned to begin tomorrow (Wednesday), is avoided and it will be business as usual.
“In addition to securing a pay award for 2017, the long-term deal struck yesterday also sets in place a sustainable pay mechanism for up to ten years – linked to the cost of living. This was designed to be fair and provide certainty to all parties moving forward.
“We would like to thank the residents of Doncaster for their patience and understanding while these negotiations have been ongoing.”
Still On The Table
Unite regional officer, Shane Sweeting, said: “This deal has dramatically improved the wages of our members and means many of them are being paid above poverty pay rates for the first time.
“Residents of Doncaster will be relieved that their refuse collection will not be seriously disrupted by strike action this week.
“Until SUEZ withdraws the threat to make over 100 refuse workers compulsorily redundant the possibility of industrial action this autumn remains very much on the table.
“However until SUEZ withdraws the threat to make over 100 refuse workers compulsorily redundant the possibility of industrial action this autumn remains very much on the table.”
Unite acting national officer for local authorities Jim Kennedy, said: “This has been a difficult and complicated dispute; our members have been resolute in winning pay justice.
“It is important to recognise and thank the support that Unite has received from local politicians and community leaders in reaching a deal on pay and brokering talks on the future of the contract. This has assisted in the planned strikes being called off.”
The news follows accusations from Unite that SUEZ was seeking to “undermine” the strike action in by attempting to illegally hire agency cover staff.