Agency staff being offered higher pay than bin lorry drivers

Generic - Binmen picture.Council recycling feature at West Norfolk council depot, new 240 litres '

Agency staff are being offered higher pay than workers employed by Breckland's waste contractor, Serco - Credit: Archant

Agency workers are being offered higher pay than bin lorry drivers employed by Breckland Council's waste contractor, Serco, it has emerged. 

A listing posted on employment website, Indeed, is currently advertising a temporary HGV driving role based in Watton.

A listing on Indeed advertising a job as a bin lorry driver in Watton

A listing on Indeed advertising a job as a bin lorry driver in Watton - Credit: Indeed

The advert says successful applicants will be paid £12.45 per hour to "collect waste in and around the local borough".

Another notice tells jobseekers they will get the same hourly rate for "loading/unloading" and performing "residential kerb-side recycling collections".

Meanwhile, it is believed Serco's HGV-driving staff only receive around £10 for every hour's work. 

This is supported by a listing on a second employment site, Total Jobs, which advertises a permanent LGV driving position with Serco. 

A Serco job advert listed on Total Jobs

A Serco job advert listed on Total Jobs - Credit: Total Jobs

The Dereham-based job offers a salary of £21,750 - working out at just £10.46 per hour. 

Serco has, however, explained that temporary recruits do not have the same benefits package or job security as permanent employees. 

And yet the disparity is said to be causing growing resentment among its staff, some of whom have left their roles in recent weeks. 

Their departures have caused widespread disruption to weekly wheelie bin rounds in the district, with thousands collected days later than scheduled.

There have been regular delays to bin collections in Breckland

There have been regular delays to bin collections in Breckland - Credit: Archant

Breckland Council once again put the issue down to "local and national driver shortages" as delays continued into a new week. 

But Terry Jermy, district councillor for the Thetford Burrell ward, said he believed deep-rooted problems had existed since a new £230m deal with Serco began earlier this year.

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"I know the council and Serco have been using agency staff, and there are certainly tensions because of that," he added.

"I was not aware of the difference in hourly pay, but I am not surprised because it is such a mess at the moment that they have got to try and recruit people as soon as possible.

Terry Jermy who is chair of the board at Charles Burrell Centre and a town, district, and county cou

Terry Jermy, Breckland district councillor for the Thetford Burrell ward - Credit: Archant

"The longer the delays go on for, the more difficult it is to get on top of it.

"The problem is you have to pay a premium to get agency staff on board, and that is eventually going to cause disharmony."

In response to the ongoing driver shortage, Serco said it was working on a "new deal" for its own workers. 

Emma Windle, the company's senior contract manager, added: "We recognise the national HGV driver shortage does, in the short-term, place our existing workforce under significant pressure.

From left, Breckland Council leader Sam Chapman-Allen, King's Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council

Representatives from Breckland, North Norfolk and West Norfolk councils after a joint contract with Serco was agreed - Credit: Keith Mindham Photography

"To create more capacity and take the pressure off our existing staff, we’re offering our teams a cash bonus for any new driver they recommend who joins us on either a permanent or temporary basis.

"We are also working with agencies to recruit temporary staff, who will not receive the same benefits package or have the job security as our permanent employees. This is reflected in their hourly rate.

"I would personally like to thank the whole team for their support during this challenging time.”

Despite Serco's explanation, Unison, which represents a large proportion of the workforce, said the firm needed to pledge better working conditions.

Unison's Eastern regional organiser Cameron Matthews

Unison's Eastern regional organiser Cameron Matthews - Credit: Unison

Cameron Matthews, organiser for the Eastern region, added: "It’s no wonder Serco’s permanent staff have had enough when their new temporary colleagues are being paid an extra £80 a week.

"Serco’s realised it needs to pay a higher rate for the job. The firm must make sure its regular drivers get a better wage to stop the continued drift out the door.

"Anything else and we’ll keep seeing bins go unemptied and residents getting more fed up."

Addressing the continued disruption to bin collections, which is now affecting recycling, Breckland Council warned residents to expect another delay.

Sarah Suggitt, Breckland Council's cabinet member for contracts

Sarah Suggitt, Breckland Council's cabinet member for contracts - Credit: Gary Donnison Photography 2021

Sarah Suggitt, cabinet member for contracts, said: "All of the bins from last week's collection rounds have now been picked up.

"However, the knock-on effect means that, while the vast majority of collections this week will take place on the normal day, some may be a little later than usual."

Households have been advised to once again to leave their bins out until they are collected.