efuse workers in east London are set to go on a week-long strike over a pay dispute.
The union said its members did not feel recognised for their efforts and demanded a 10% pay increase.
Newham Mayor, Rokhsana Fiaz, said the council had offered workers an increase of £2,229 for all staff across the Council, equating to wage increases of between 7.8% – 9.9% for those in waste services.
Ms Fiaz said that the union’s demand for a 10% pay rise on the current £22,850 salary would cost the council an extra £1m per year, and that it could not afford.
According to the BBC, around 99% of workers who took part in the ballot voted for the walkout, with a turnout of 81%.
Steve Edwards, Unite regional officer, said the union was asking for 10% because of pay freezes.
He said: “What we’re asking for locally is a payment of 10% of normal wages and that’s to take account of various pay freezes that have happened to refuse workers over a period of time.
“They are among the lowest paid on Newham Council and they generally live in and around London which is pretty expensive to do.
“There has been a bit of feeling building up since the pandemic that they were out in all circumstances doing that job and they don’t feel they’ve been recognised for it.”
Ms Fiaz said in a statement: “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”.
She also added: “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.”
She said senior council officials were in talks with the union in a bid to ward off the strike before Saturday.