UNITE has rubbished Coventry City Council’s claims that its refuse lorry drivers receive similar pay to others in the region in similar roles.
On Tuesday the union claimed workers doing the same job in Birmingham received £5,500 above the £22,183-per-annum Coventry drivers earned and in Dudley, some refuse collection drivers started on £28,673.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “These figures demolish Coventry council’s claims that they are paying the rate.
“It is abundantly clear that they are not – it is time to pay the rate for the job.
“Patience with this council, a Labour council let’s not forget, is wearing very thin.”
Unite claimed the authority had spent nearly £3million on contingency plans, including £300,000 to a refuse firm – Tom White Waste – owned by the council, that the authority could end the dispute for £250,000 and claimed councillors had failed to attend negotiations with the union.
The 70 drivers, who protested outside the Coventry Council House on Tuesday, have been on all out strike since January 31 and the strikes are planned to continue until at least March 23 unless a settlement is reached.
Coventry City Council has maintained over the last 12 months the lowest paid driver took home £28,148 and added the average pay bin lorry drivers received over the last 12 months was £34,143.
The council said it was one of the highest paying local authorities in the West Midlands for Class II HGV drivers, who drive the city’s bin lorries.
The council also previously said it had a duty to its 4,500-strong workforce and had to be mindful of the possibility of future equal pay claims.
Unite said to claim to pay the drivers appropriately for their skills could trigger equal pay claims by other council employees was ‘extraordinary’.
Coventry City Council leader George Duggins previously said an offer was made over pay and Christmas working – to the tune of £4,000 per worker. He added ACAS – which has been brought into the dispute in a bid to help resolve it – had not yet made its decision and when it did the council would abide by it.