In advance of the possible week-long strike action that Newham Council staff in our Waste and Recycling Service may be taking from Saturday 27 August 2022 to Saturday 3 September 2022, I wanted to provide residents and local businesses an update. Like many, I am very concerned about the impact that this will have on refuse and recycling collections as well as the cleanliness of our borough, and that is why the Council’s Chief Executive, Colin Ansell, along with senior officers are working really hard in their negotiations with Unite the Union to avert the strike so that services for our residents in Newham aren’t disrupted.
Newham Council is a proud accredited London Living Wage employer for over 4,500 staff who all work hard to deliver vital services for residents, especially as in these hard times where we are all facing the cost of living crisis. Salaries for Council employees, compared against other authorities in outer London and in line with the national pay offer agreed with all trade unions will see a £2,229 increase for all staff across the Council. For staff working in the Waste and Recycling service specifically, this means wage increases of between 7.8% - 9.9%.
In summary, the union carried out a ballot for strike action earlier this year with their members working at the Council’s Waste and Recycling Service relating to some pay and condition issues, including their demand for an additional 10 percent pay increase for their staff on top of the agreed national pay offer.
That would mean an additional £1 million per year for the service and if applied to the whole council, tens of millions more per annum. Simply put, the Council doesn’t have that level of money spare, as all our money is spent on vital services for all our Newham residents. It’s why we campaign for Newham to get more money and a fairer funding settlement from national government because of the needs of our people who are increasingly facing daily hardship because of the cost of living crisis.
The Council’s senior managers have been in talks with the union from the outset and have been working actively across the range of issues towards solutions and a positive agreement for our staff and for residents. Right now, the Council is in independent conciliation talks with the union facilitated by ACAS – the national body that works to resolve workplace disputes. Progress was made last week, and there are plans for further discussions this week. I really hope that the Unite representatives will accept the generous offer on the table by the Council.
If the week-long strike action does go ahead, it will cause disruption to refuse and recycling collections for several weeks as the service area catches up with the backlog of collections across the borough. I know that senior officers are doing all they can to resolve the dispute with the union and as soon as we have further information, I will provide an update including the contingency plans we will be putting in place.
You can also find regular updates and information via the Council’s website at www.newham.gov.uk/wasteadvice; in libraries, parks and on the council's social media.