Residents should put their bins out as usual despite a three-week strike by Biffa waste collectors starting today (Thursday), says Waverley Borough Council.
GMB members, employed by the council’s waste contractor Biffa, rejected a pay deal this morning and immediately commenced the first day of picketing.
The dispute centres around pay, with members unhappy with the pay offer their employer has made, which they say falls “well below” the current rate of inflation.
The industrial action will affect kerbside collections within Godalming, Farnham, Haslemere, Cranleigh and the surrounding areas.
It is set to continue until November 23, with street cleaning services also affected.
However, in a statement Waverley said the strike action is only “partial” and urged residents to put out their bins as usual.
Residents will, however, be unable to report missed collections after the borough council closed its reporting facility in view of the strike action.
A council spokesman said: “Following notification from our waste contractor, Biffa, we can confirm that partial strike action affecting waste and recycling collections and street cleaning in Waverley starts today.
“The strike action was voted for by GMB union members in a ballot related to pay negotiations that have been taking place between Biffa and the GMB.
“Please put all bins out according to your regular schedule and if the bin is not emptied, please leave it out as our waste contractor will be attempting recovery of unattended streets in afternoons and through the weekend. Please note that during any period of industrial action, the council will close its reporting facility for missed bins.
“Further information, including how to deal with your waste during the industrial action, can be found on our website at www.waverley.gov.uk/binstrike.
“We encourage residents to continue checking our website and social media channels for further updates. Please also share the information with any neighbours who are not online.
“We apologise for any inconvenience during this industrial action and thank residents for their patience.”
Paul Grafton, GMB regional officer said: “We have given Biffa plenty of notice that our members would be walking out if an acceptable offer was not forthcoming, as we’re required to do by law.
“Biffa did come back with an improved deal, but this still falls well below what our members need to keep their heads above water in these testing financial times.
“I’ve been looking around at what other contractors pay their similar workers, and I am yet to find a single local authority where the refuse workers are paid as low as what Biffa are offering our members.
“Any resident or local business that is unhappy with their bins not being emptied should contact their local councillor – perhaps the council might like to intervene to ensure that our members get paid a decent wage for this physically demanding, vitally important job that goes unnoticed until it stops being undertaken.”
A Biffa spokesperson said: “Following a constructive day of negotiations with ACAS and the GMB last week, we tabled an improved offer that was already significantly above inflation. Unfortunately, this offer was today rejected by the trade union.
“We are doing everything we can with our partners at Waverley Borough Council to continue delivering services and to bring the dispute to an end as soon as possible.”