Bin collectors will not strike after accepting improved pay deal

Serco's Breckland-based workers will not be going on strike over pay

Serco's Breckland-based workers will not be going on strike over pay - Credit: Archant/Unison

Bin workers in Breckland will not be going on strike after they accepted an improved pay offer.

Refuse collectors from Serco, responsible for services in Breckland, had been considering industrial action over working conditions.

But, after drawn-out negotiations involving the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS), staff have agreed to a pay rise of between 1pc and 2.4pc - depending on their role.

There have been several delays to bin collections in Breckland during 2021

There have been several delays to bin collections in Breckland during 2021 - Credit: Archant

Market supplements, a temporary extra payment to bring an employee's salary up to market rate, will be paid to some.

The pay saga, which also involves grounds and street cleaners, as well as admin staff, had been rumbling on for several months.

Members of the trade union Unison had been voting in a consultative ballot on the offer, and came to an agreement in recent days. 

Unison convenor Nigel Beiley said: "Serco workers across Breckland have stood together and won an improved pay offer.

Unison convenor Nigel Beiley

Unison convenor Nigel Beiley - Credit: Unison

“While it still falls below what staff deserve after working through a pandemic, workers did not want to take industrial action that could affect the communities they serve."

Most Read

Despite the positive outcome, Mr Beiley said fresh talks would soon take place. 

"Unison and Breckland Serco staff remain fully committed to improving pay on this contract," he added.

"We will start talks soon on next year’s deal. Serco must make cash available to bring pay up to a decent level."

Emma Windle, senior contract manger at Serco, said: “We are pleased that our Breckland team voted overwhelmingly to accept our pay offer and reject the proposed strike action.

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: Photo: Keith Mindham Photography

"I would like to thank our much-valued and hardworking frontline key workers who, through these challenging times, have always put our residents first and strived to deliver service excellence."

Serco has been plagued by problems this year, with bins in Breckland going unemptied for several days on a number of occasions. 

Issues have largely been put down to the nationwide shortage of HGV drivers.

But in August, it became clear agency workers were being offered higher pay than bin lorry drivers employed by the waste contractor.

While pleased to see a resolution, Breckland councillor Terry Jermy agreed there was still work to be done. 

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

Breckland councillor Terry Jermy - Credit: Archant

He added: "It is good news if we can avoid strike action, because I am sure the last thing Serco, Breckland and staff want is to inconvenience residents.

"That said, the staff do a difficult job and they should be paid a fair wage to reflect that. We have had significant cost-of-living increases, and their wages have not been increasing at the same rate."

Sarah Suggitt, Breckland Council's cabinet member for planning, leisure and contracts, said she was "delighted" bin crews had agreed a deal after "working tirelessly for Breckland's residents". 

Sarah Suggitt, Breckland Council's cabinet member for contracts

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