Bin collection strike threat called off after pay deal

Bin collection staff in have agreed a last-minute pay deal to avoid strike action, which could have caused rubbish to “build up in the streets” in parts of Derbyshire.

Friday, 8th October 2021, 2:35 pm

Two weeks ago, the Local Democracy Reporting Service shared the news that employees of Amber Valley Norse, who operate bin collection services in the borough, had voted in favour of a strike and industrial action – such as potential slow-downs.

This was over a dispute relating to pay, with some employees leaving to join competitors who were offering higher pay due to a driver shortage, boosting demand for trained operators.

However, a deal has now been struck for the staff by trade union GMB and Amber Valley Norse – a partnership of Amber Valley Borough Council and Norse, a subsidiary of Norfolk County Council.

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A deal has now been struck for the staff by trade union GMB

Amber Valley Norse says 54 employees will benefit from the agreed pay increase and GMB says the deal includes a series of improvements to working conditions and a pay increase in line with inflation.

The company had said a strike could have affected 10,000 households.

Mick Coppin, GMB regional organiser, said: “This is a deal that our members have fought and worked hard for.

“They knew that things had to improve at the company to ensure they could continue to deliver the kind of service local people deserve.

“They haven’t backed down in this fight and we’re delighted that, together, we’ve won the kind of deal they deserve.

“GMB is the union for all refuse workers, and we’re committed to getting them the recognition they deserve.

“GMB looks forward to building on this win and ensuring our members are front and centre of developing services in the area.

“We welcome the decision and co-operation of Amber Valley Norse management in reaching this deal, which will make sure Amber Valley refuse workers are able to keep towns and villages across Amber Valley clean.

“Now is the time for other refuse contractors across the region to follow suit and offer a pay deal refuse workers deserve.”

Andrew Beighton, Amber Valley Norse’s operations director, said: “We are delighted that a reasonable pay increase agreement has been reached which demonstrates the value of our staff and that, as a result, we can continue to provide services to local communities.”

The strike notices and industrial action had represented the climax of what has been several months’ worth of turbulence related to bin collections in the borough.

Services have been hit by staff absence due to Covid, lockdown periods have hit the number of drivers able to get their training, Brexit has hit the supply of European labour and low salaries have seen drivers and collection staff leaving the profession.

In Amber Valley, garden waste collections had been suspended for two months and restarted on Monday, September 27, but extra waste outside of bins is not being accepted.

It said the disruptions had been caused by staffing shortages, as well as the closure of the council’s waste transfer station in Somercotes.

The council said Norse said they were looking at ways to retain staff and could not promise there would not be any further disruption to collections.