Tower Hamlets residents are facing the prospect of ‘overflowing bins and piles of rubbish’ following the announcement of strike action by Veolia refuse workers over unsettled holiday pay arrears, Unite, the UK and Ireland’s largest union, said today (Tuesday 25 February).

Bin collections and street cleaning services in the London borough of Tower Hamlets are set to stop after workers at Veolia, which holds the refuse, recycling and street cleaning contract for the borough, voted in favour of strike action in a dispute over an unsettled collective holiday pay claim.

Despite reaching an agreement with Unite and other trade unions on the calculation of holiday pay in August 2018, Veolia owes around 150 workers significant sums in arrears. The firm’s UK waste management division generated revenues of nearly £1 billion in the first half of 2019.

Unite, which has about 250 members at Veolia, said that instead of settling the claim collectively the company had deterred staff from claiming the arrears by requiring individuals to launch ‘complicated and drawn out’ legal proceedings.

Unite members voted overwhelmingly (96.5 per cent) in favour of strike action in a ballot with a 70 per cent turnout that was held earlier this month.

Seven days of strike action beginning on Monday 9 March at 15:00 and ending on Monday 16 March have now been set. 

Unite regional officer Ruth Hydon said: “Veolia has caused these strikes by attempting to weasel out of paying the substantial holiday arrears it owes staff. The company now has to answer to Tower Hamlets residents who will be understandably angry at having to put up with overflowing bins and piles of rubbish.

“Our members have been left with no choice but to vote for strike action after Veolia forced each of them to launch complicated and drawn out legal claims to retrieve holiday pay that was theirs to begin with. This was nothing but a dishonourable attempt to put hard working staff off claiming what was owed.

“Veolia still has time to resolve this dispute before rubbish collections grind to a halt by agreeing to provide the collective financial settlement that should have been offered to begin with.”  

ENDS

Notes to editors: 

Stink over Veolia’s broken pay promises could hit Tower Hamlets’ bin collections ‘imminently’

For more information please contact Unite communications officer Ryan Fletcher on 07849 090215.

Email: ryan.fletcher@unitetheunion.org

Twitter: @unitetheunion Facebook: unitetheunion1 Web: unitetheunion.org 

Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.