Unite members are taking strike action due to what the union describes as ‘poverty rates of pay’. Loaders are paid £10.90 an hour while refuse lorry drivers, who have to hold an HGV licence, are on £11.89.

These rates came into effect in April when the employer introduced a 10.1% increase. Unite argue this was a real terms pay cut, with the real inflation rate standing at 13.8%.

The workers are employed by Allerdale Waste Services (AWS) which is a company 100% owned by Cumberland Council.

The demonstration coincides with the date when employers can no longer legally use agency workers to undermine lawful strike action.

Unite accused AWS and the council of seeking to circumvent the new rules by moving workers from agency working to being directly employed on short term contracts.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: ‘Allerdale Waste Services and Cumberland council need to stop playing games and prolonging the strike action. Refuse workers play an essential frontline role and must be paid fairly and decently.

‘The excuses need to end and the employers must return to the negotiating table and make our members’ a fair pay offer. It’s as simple as that.’

A council spokesperson said AWS were working closely with the union and ACAS to resolve the dispute.

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