Wirral bin strike plans dumped after pay increase

BIN workers' strike plans have been ditched after they secured a pay rise.

Wirral's bin workers, who are employed by Biffa the council's contractor, had voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action after no agreement was reached with the company in March.

The union which represents them, Unite, said strikes would not take place until after the Covid-19 pandemic had passed.

But an improved pay offer has now been made and the threat of strike action has been withdrawn.

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Unite members voted to accept the offer of a 3.5% pay increase, which will be backdated to April 2019.

There had been a brief walkout among Wirral’s bin workers last month over coronavirus-related safety fears, but this was resolved very quickly and is unrelated to the dispute over pay.

News of this agreement will come as a relief to people in the borough, many of whom were extremely worried about the impact of any potential strike.

These fears were exacerbated by the increased level of fly-tipping which has been reported by Wirral Council since the coronavirus lockdown began.

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Last Monday, the region’s tips reopened and this agreement adds further reassurance to those concerned about rubbish building up in Wirral.

Another element of the dispute between Unite and Biffa was the union's claim that Biffa was trying to move workers from weekly to monthly pay without a proper consultation, or an agreement on safeguards if mistakes in pay were made.

In the agreement announced today the move from weekly to monthly pay is set to go ahead.

But it will be introduced towards the end of the year and Unite has been given an assurance that it will be fully consulted in the process.

Unite regional officer Steve Gerrard said: “This was a strong pay offer which finally met our member’s expectations and ended what has been a tense industrial period.

“Residents on the Wirral will be relieved to learn that their bin collection service will not be disrupted.

Unite has stressed from the outset that this dispute could be resolved through meaningful negotiations and that has proved to be the case.

“Unite is hopeful that this deal will pave the way for improved industrial relations with Biffa in the future.”