Northampton set for potential bin collection chaos over Christmas as refuse workers announce strikes

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Union claims the strike will cause ‘mayhem’ to bin collections with council saying contractor has to provide contingency plan

Around 80 refuse workers in Northampton are set to go on strike over Christmas in a row over pay and conditions.

The GMB Union announced on Tuesday that workers employed by contractor Veolia - delivering refuse services for West Northamptonshire Council (WNC) – will down tools on December 28- 30 and January 2-5.

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They will also implement an over time ban throughout the Christmas period.The union has claimed the action will impact household, business and hospital waste collections as well as street cleaning services delivered from Veolia’s Westbridge depot in Northampton.

Refuse workers will down tools on December 28- 30 and January 2-5.Refuse workers will down tools on December 28- 30 and January 2-5.
Refuse workers will down tools on December 28- 30 and January 2-5.

Representatives said that currently the majority of Veolia refuse workers at the depot, including drivers, loads and admin staff, earn just 3p above minimum wage.

GMB union is calling for a £15 an hour wage for Northampton’s refuse workers with around 80 workers are expected to join the strike action.

Rachelle Wilkins, GMB organiser, said: “Our members are taking a stand this Christmas and calling time on Veolia’s toxic culture of poverty pay and workplace bullying.

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“These workers did their duty for Northampton throughout the pandemic, only to be driven to the breadline by Veolia this Christmas.

“Now families, businesses and communities across Northampton face a Christmas of yuletide bin mayhem.

“This action will see bins overflowing within days with our streets and public spaces uncleaned at one of Northampton’s busiest periods.

“Our members have been driven to this by the greed and inaction of Veolia top brass, which makes it all the more shocking that Veolia and West Northamptonshire Council seem to be washing their hands of the crisis facing local people.

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“GMB’s door is open, but time is running out for Veolia to get back around the table and end this crisis before it’s too late”.

A WNC spokesperson said: “We have recently been made aware of planned action on 28 December.

"This is primarily a matter between Veolia and their staff and as part of the contract Veolia have the responsibility to put in place contingency measures to support our residents and ensure as little disruption as possible.

“We continue to communicate with Veolia to ensure that residents are clearly informed of any potential disruption.”

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A Veolia spokesperson said: “Veolia and the GMB union negotiated and agreed a two-year pay deal for employees in Northampton in 2022 which runs until April 2024. Veolia has honoured the agreement that both the company and the GMB entered into.

“Veolia has offered and remains committed to engage in early pay discussions for 2024. We encourage the GMB to meet with us on this basis so we can find a resolution for our people and avoid any disruption to residents’ services.”