Veolia employees set to strike in new year

Members of Unite, the UK’s leading union, employed by Veolia on household waste and recycling sites throughout Merseyside, will take extensive strike action after Christmas, due to the company’s “Scrooge-like pay offer.

Veolia operate household waste and recycling centres at West Kirby, Clatterbridge, and Bidston.

The 180 workers will begin strike action at the 22 sites where they are employed on Wednesday 28 December with the initial strike ending on Saturday 31 December.

There will then be further strikes beginning on Monday 2 January and ending on Saturday 7 January and from Sunday 15 January until Saturday 21 January.

The majority of the workers are paid just £9.50 an hour, including those who have a HGV class two driving licence, with class one HGV drivers receiving just £11.87 an hour.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “The spirit of Scrooge is alive and kicking this Christmas. Veolia is an incredibly wealthy company. Its workers are already poorly paid but somehow it thinks it is acceptable to offer them just a few pence extra, during the worst cost of living crisis in a generation.

“Unite is entirely committed to defending and enhancing the jobs, pay and conditions of its members and the workers at Veolia will receive the union’s complete support.”

Unite is seeking an increase of 50 pence an hour for the majority of the staff, increasing pay to £10 an hour, with class two HGV drivers being paid £12 an hour and class one drivers receiving £14.47 an hour.

As part of the pay claim, Unite expects the differentials to be maintained when the national minimum wage increases in April 2023.

Veolia has only been prepared to offer a 20 pence an hour pay increase.

Unite regional officer John McColl said, “The strike action will inevitably cause severe disruption at the busiest time of the year as residents seek to get rid of household waste. This dispute is completely of Veolia’s own making, they can fully make a fair pay offer but have chosen not to.

“Veolia needs to return to the negotiating table and make a pay offer which meets our members’ expectations.”

A Veolia spokesperson said, “We recognise the hard work of our teams in Merseyside and Halton in delivering essential public services for the community and this is reflected in our improved package for 2022/2023, covering both pay and conditions.

“We remain committed to engage in constructive discussions with Unite the Union and its members to find a resolution for our staff and avoid disruption to services.”

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