Norfolk refuse workers vote to strike

Refuse and cleansing workers across Breckland and North Norfolk have overwhelmingly voted to strike over pay, UNISON reveals today.

In an official ballot, 99% backed strikes on an 84% turnout. They also returned a 97% vote for action short of a strike on the Serco contract at the two councils.

The ballot covered around 100 refuse, grounds maintenance, street cleaning and cleansing workers.

During months of negotiations, Serco has refused to meaningfully move from a pay offer that fell short of inflation and pay rates at other councils.

But as the ballots were being counted on Friday, the multimillion-pound firm said it would “tweak” its offer.

UNISON warns that the revised offer leaves the lowest paid barely above the real living wage and fails to address a decade where wages have failed to keep pace with the cost of living.

The union is now giving staff a chance to vote on the new offer before setting any strike dates.

UNISON Eastern regional organiser Cameron Matthews said: “Serco workers in Breckland and North Norfolk have endured year after year in which the value of their wages has gone down. But despite the soaring cost of living, the firm has refused to raise their pay enough to live on.

“Unfortunately, these workers have been left with no choice but to vote for strikes. They don’t want to cause disruption to Norfolk residents but they’ve run out of options.

“Despite Serco tweaking its offer, pay will still leave workers struggling to make ends meet. If they decide it’s not enough for them to get by, we will have to start planning industrial action.”