Harlow refuse workers call off strikes after improved pay offer

The offer, worth around 9%, comes alongside a commitment to a new collective agreement

Harlow refuse workers outside their workplace

Last month, an overwhelming 97% of refuse workers backed walkouts in Harlow after enduring years of below-inflation deals, including 0% in 2021 and 0.4% in 2020, leaving loaders barely above the legal minimum wage.

Workers rejected Veolia’s attempt to impose a 7% rise, saying it failed to keep up with the cost of living.

The firm initially refused to talk to UNISON about pay but agreed to negotiate last week, tabling an improved offer of 2.5% backdated to January 2021 and 5.5% from January 2022.

Along with additional leave and new holiday enhancement rates, the overall package is worth over 9% and Veolia also agreed to a new collective agreement that includes commitments to negotiate on pay in the future.

Members accepted the agreement at meeting on Monday night.

UNISON Eastern regional manager Caroline Hennessy said: “This agreement is huge for some of the lowest-paid workers in Harlow and should keep their heads above water amid spiralling food and energy costs.

“No-one wanted strikes and we’re glad that we can now call them off after Veolia finally agreed to talk to their staff about pay.

“This is a shining example of what we can achieve when we stand together.”