East Suffolk refuse workers vote for strikes

Refuse workers hold signs reading: 'Fair pay now'

Refuse workers in East Suffolk have voted overwhelmingly for strike action in their ongoing fight for a real living wage, UNISON says today.

More than 96% of East Suffolk Norse staff voted to strike on an 88% turnout, the union said.

UNISON said the ballot result should be a wake-up call for Norse and the council, showing that staff are fed up with poverty wages.

Staff are calling for a pay deal that brings them in line with refuse workers elsewhere, as well as contractual sick pay.

The company has offered workers a £1,925 rise negotiated for most directly employed local government staff, as well as an additional 75p an hour. But UNISON points out that pay on the East Suffolk contract is so low, the rise would still leave workers struggling.

No dates have yet been set for industrial action and the union says it is hoping for an improved offer to avoid strikes.

UNISON Eastern regional organiser Cameron Matthews said: “Refuse workers are desperate to avoid any disruption to the communities they serve, but they can’t survive on East Suffolk Norse wages much longer.

“Years of lousy pay deals have left these key workers struggling to pay their bills, especially with the cost of living skyrocketing this year. The employer’s offer may seem sizeable but pay has been stagnant for so long that it falls short of a decent wage.

“We’re not asking for the world, just enough to live on. We urge East Suffolk Council and Norse to come back with a meaningful improvement that rewards the vital jobs these workers do.”