Binmen could strike over pay

RUBBISH could soon be piling up across North Somerset if a dispute between binmen and their employers is not resolved soon.

RUBBISH could soon be piling up across North Somerset if a dispute between binmen and their employers is not resolved soon.

Waste management company Veolia is in its fifth month of pay negotiations with regional union bosses at GMB after its workers rejected a three per cent pay rise in April.

The French company is employed by North Somerset Council to collect household and green waste from residents' homes.

GMB regional organiser Ken Baker said: "We have written to Veolia asking the company to reconsider pay after workers at its Weston depot overwhelmingly rejected its original offer which was below the retail price index of 4.8 per cent at the time."

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Mr Baker confirmed the trade union represents the 'majority' of Veolia employees in Weston.

When asked if workers may refuse to go on rounds if the situation is left unresolved, he said: "We may be forced to ballot for industrial action in which we will consider all options available to us. I expect to know more in two weeks' time."

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However, an anonymous email sent to the Weston & Somerset Mercury, by someone claiming to be a Veolia employee, said: "Following prolonged discussions, a ballot was taken as to whether the employees are prepared to take industrial action in their efforts to secure a decent payrise.

"The resulting 'yes' vote will now be passed back to union headquarters along with a request to take union-backed industrial action.

"No-one at Veolia wants to use industrial action as a lever in their pay deal, but staff now feel so low they are left with little or no alternative.

"Could this mean rubbish bags and waste piled up on the streets of Weston, Clevedon, Portishead, Nailsea, Yatton and Wrington in the next few weeks? Only time will tell."

A Veolia Environmental Services' spokesperson said: "We are still going through a recognised negotiation process and do not wish to comment further at this stage."

* North Somerset Council was asked whether it had measures in place to deal with a possible strike by refuse workers and whether there would be any knock-on effect for amenity sites. No response had been received as the Weston & Somerset Mercury went to press.

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