The 60 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 from the beginning of this month when the employer introduced a 10.1% increase. Unite argue this was an overall real terms pay cut, with the real inflation rate standing at 13.8%.
The initial strike action, which will affect the town of Workington and the surrounding area, begins on Thursday 28 April and ends on Sunday 30 April.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: ‘It is outrageous that our members, who are delivering vital local cleansing services, are on poverty rates of pay.
‘The low pay our members are suffering combined with the cost of living crisis means that they are struggling daily to make ends meet.
‘Unite has a laser like focus on the jobs, pay and conditions of its members and the workforce at Allerdale Waste Services will be receiving the union’s undivided support.’
Allerdale Waste Services is a private company which was created by the former Allerdale council and is now wholly owned by Cumberland Council which came into being on 1 April 2023.
Unite regional officer Lewis Watson said: ‘The strike action will inevitably result in large-scale disruption as residents’ bins will go uncollected. But this dispute is entirely the fault of management at Allderale Waste Services, who have had every opportunity to make a fair pay offer but have failed to do so.
‘Allerdale Waste Services and Cumberland council must stop prevaricating and make our members a fair offer.’
A Cumberland Council spokesperson said: ‘We are working with Allerdale Waste Services who are in dialogue with the trade union representatives on the proposed strike action. We will update residents in due course with what this may mean for them in terms of any disruption to kerbside waste collections.’