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Leeds refuse collection staff go on strike

Leeds refuse collection workers have begun indefinite strike action in a dispute with Leeds City Council over pay cuts.

Public service unions GMB and Unison have balloted staff in refuse and street cleansing services to begin strike action from 7 September. The unions are arguing over pay cuts of up to a potential £6,000 for refuse workers due to take place in February 2010.

Leeds City Council state that preparations are in place to try and minimise disruption to refuse services and street cleansing services.

The strike action started after the council carried out a pay and grading review for local government. The process resulted in 440 refuse, street cleansing and waste management staff being adversely affected, according to the council.

Leeds City Council executive board member for environmental services councillor James Monaghan said: Despite our best efforts to resolve this dispute through negotiations, the unions seem intent on simply causing disruption to important services by calling for this strike action.
The council is working hard to draw up contingency plans and will do all it can to keep disruption to a minimum, but I ask the people of Leeds to bear with us during this difficult time.

GMB regional organiser Desiree Risebury said: Senior council officers were on huge salaries and had been granted additional pay rises in the past year of up to £12,000 almost as much as the basic pay of refuse collectors.

Chief executive Paul Rogersons salary went up last year from £186,355 to £191,467, his deputy Dave Pages salary rose from £153,000 to £157,000 and the director of environment and neighbourhoods, Neil Evans, enjoyed a massive £15,000 rise, from £117,679 to £132,593. These are fat cat salaries.

These are some of the people responsible for imposing pay cuts of a third on people earning just £18,000 or less. It is outrageous. Let them eat cake appears to be their philosophy.

A Leeds City Council statement on its website states: Union lies are also circulating about a pay rise of more than six per cent that city councillors supposedly awarded themselves. There is no truth in this claim. Councillors do not get paid they are given an allowance for the work they do.

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