Newham bin strike: Refuse workers set to walkout for a week over pay

Around 130 Unite loaders, sweepers and drivers employed by Newham Council will walk out from Saturday August 27 until Saturday September 3.

Refuse workers in east London are set to strike for a week as part of a pay dispute, union leaders said.

Around 130 Unite loaders, sweepers and drivers employed by Newham Council will walk out from Saturday August 27 until Saturday September 3.

Bin collection workers are set to strike in Newham

Unite said that its workers "did not feel recognised" for their efforts and has demanded a 10% pay rise.

Around 99% of the workers who took part in the ballot backed strike action on an 81% turn out.

Unite claims that bin workers in Newham are paid less in the neighbouring boroughs of Hackney and Greenwich, with its members earning £22,850 compared to £24,763 for workers in the nearby councils.

Sharon Graham

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Our members are essential for keeping the streets of Newham clean. It’s wrong that they are paid almost £2000 less than workers in neighbouring councils.

“The workers have Unite’s backing until they get a fair pay increase.”

Newham mayor, Rokhsana Fiaz, said the council had offered workers an increase of £2,229 for all staff across the council, equating to wage increases of between 7.8% - 9.9% for those in waste services.

Ms Fiaz said that the union’s demand for a 10% pay rise on the current £22,850 salary would cost the council an extra £1m per year, and that it could not afford.

Steve Edwards, Unite’s regional officer, said the union was asking for 10% because of pay freezes.

He said: “What we’re asking for locally is a payment of 10% of normal wages and that’s to take account of various pay freezes that have happened to refuse workers over a period of time.

“They are among the lowest paid on Newham Council and they generally live in and around London which is pretty expensive to do.

“There has been a bit of feeling building up since the pandemic that they were out in all circumstances doing that job and they don’t feel they’ve been recognised for it.”

Newham Council has listed a number of alternative rubbish collection points

In a statement on their website Newham Council said: “Prior to, during and for several weeks after we expect waste, recycling and street cleansing services to be disrupted.

“Waste and recycling from houses is unlikely to be collected during the strike period if we do not have sufficient members of staff in work to run the services.”

To assist in reducing waste on the streets the council is setting up a number of drop off points for rubbish collection between Saturday August 27 and Sunday September 11.

Residents can take their bagged household rubbish to one of the following Temporary Waste Drop Off Sites at:

  • Little Ilford Park Service area, Reynolds Avenue E12 6JU
  • Shaftesbury Road Car Park, 85 Shaftesbury Road, E7 8PD
  • Church Street Car Park in front of shops, 30-46 Church Street, E15 3HU
  • Freemasons Road / Coolfin Road Car Park in front of shops,  78 Coolfin Road, E16 3BE
  • The Temporary Waste Drop Off Sites are open daily, 7am to 8pm
  • Jenkins Lane re-use and recycling centre is also available for residents to take their waste to.