PAY rises have been offered to Rugby’s bin lorry drivers and street cleaners in the hope of ending bin collection strikes in the town as they enter a fourth week.
Rugby Borough Council (RBC) has offered to increase wages for the two roles – but has refused a pay rise for refuse loaders, instead offering to extend their working day to boost their wages.
RBC has concluded a review of job roles and pay for refuse drivers, loaders and street cleaners which began in November, five months before the strike began.
A spokesman said: “After updating job profiles to reflect new responsibilities, analysis has confirmed that an increase in pay in the street cleaner and driver roles is justified. It has also showed that interim increases in refuse driver pay that had been agreed in December should be made permanent.
“Analysis of refuse loader roles confirmed that the existing grade, which attracts above average pay, is correct.”
He added that Unite the Union’s request for loaders to be paid for Community Time equivalent to 30 minutes work per day could be agreed by increasing the contracted hours from 37 to 39.5 hours per week.
He added: “In return, the council is asking that the crews work all of their contracted hours, bringing an end to the practice of allowing staff to leave work as soon as bin collection rounds are completed and in turn for the resource to be directed to additional community time.”
Around 70 Unite members from RBC’s rubbish, recycling and street cleaning services are demanding a pay increase, in protest at a 1.75 per cent pay rise for local government workers which was negotiated nationally by the National Joint Council for Local Government Services and agreed by the Unison and GMB trade unions over a year ago.
Unite says RBC’s street cleansers, HGV lorry drivers and loaders are some of the lowest paid compared to neighbouring councils and to local transport and warehouse workers in the private sector.
It says the starting salary for street cleaners in Rugby begins at £17,100 and reaches £19,200 after five years. The loaders’ annual wage begins at £19,200, reaching £21,300 after five years, while drivers earn £21,300 rising to £23,400 after five years.
The council has now offered:
- Additional payments for refuse drivers paid since December to be made permanent. Total pay available will rise to up to £30,940
- Agreement to Unite’s request for paid Community Time for refuse loaders, if crews work all of their contracted hours. Total pay available will rise to up to £24,587
- An uplift in pay grade and additional payments for street cleaners and drivers, reflecting increased responsibilities since last review. Total pay available will rise to up to £24,587
- No change in the nationally agreed pay award.
RBC leader Coun Seb Lowe said: “Throughout discussions we have balanced our responsibilities towards our staff with our responsibilities to our residents. We are mindful of the need to be good stewards of public money.
“We are continuing to engage in constructive discussions with Unite and, while we cannot alter the national pay settlement, we have made an offer and hope to reach an agreement soon.”
Coun Lowe thanked residents for their patience, adding: “I know that our crews and redeployed staff who are continuing to work appreciate their support.”
The council said it would write to crews with the full details of the offer so they can see how they will be affected individually, and would update residents on the progress of discussions.
The Observer has requested a comment from Unite.