1st Jul, 2022

Unite threatens to withdraw its financial support for the Labour Party as Coventry bin strike goes up another gear

THE GENERAL Secretary of the Unite union has threatened to withdraw funding from the Labour Party while the Coventry bin strike carries on.

Speaking about the industrial action in the city which has now been going on for almost two months, Sharon Graham said the 70 bin lorry drivers involved in the dispute they had the full support of Unite, said ‘the campaign had only just begun’ and warned Labour the financial backing was ‘under review’.

“No Labour politician or party in the Midlands will get a single penny or practical support from any of our members while this strike goes ahead.”

Addressing Coventry City Council directly she added: “Not one penny will leave our coffers until you sort out this mess you have created.”

She accused the authority as being ‘one of the most hostile employers the union had ever encountered’ and said: “If you are a Labour council, act like a Labour council.”

She claimed the council had £350million in reserved and told it to use some of the cash from that to bring the dispute to an end.

She also criticised the council for using the Tom White Waste firm’s drivers to undertake refuse collections during the strike, saying the council was paying those workers what it should be paying its own bin lorry drivers.

Unite claims the agency workers being recruited for Tom White Waste are being offered between £18 and £20 per hour which is in excess of the pay rates currently received by the striking refuse bin collection drivers. It adds the current pay rate for the council’s bin lorry drivers is between £11.49 to £14.37 an hour and says its regrading claim would take bin lorry drivers’ pay to between £14 and £17 an hour.

Coventry City Council has always maintained over the last 12 months the lowest paid driver took home £28,148 which – at 37.5 hours-per-week would work out at £14.40-per hour.

The authority added the average pay bin lorry drivers received over the last 12 months was £34,143 – which would equate to £17.50 per hour.

And it reiterated its claim it was already one of the highest paying local authorities in the West Midlands for Class II HGV drivers, who drive the city’s bin lorries.

Speaking on BBC Politics Midlands live a fortnight ago, Coventry City Council leader Coun George Duggins appealed to bin lorry drivers not to strike.

He said an offer had been made regarding Christmas working hours – of £4,000 per person – and he added ACAS had not yet come to a conclusion and the council would abide by what it said.

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