Bin men and women have voted to support industrial action in a dispute over pay, which could mean strikes and collection service disruption across the UK.
Members of trade union Unison in England, Wales and Northern Ireland voted for action in response to a 2.45% pay offer, which is below inflation at 3.3%. Scottish members will also be voting on industrial action shortly.
The pay dispute covers many sectors in local government including social workers, housing benefit workers, rent collectors, school meals staff, teaching assistants, cooks, cleaners, architects and surveyors.
Unison head of local government Heather Wakefield said: [Local government workers] case for a realistic pay increase is indisputable. We are, of course, willing to meet with the employers at any time, but we will decide tomorrow what recommendations to make to our national strike committee."
Almost 250,000 of those balloted earn less than £6.50 an hour and 75% of them are women. The joint unions' pay claim was for 6% or 50p an hour, whichever was greater.
Commenting on the possible impact of such a strike on collection services a Local Government Association spokesman said: With waste and recycling refuse collection men and women, a lot of them are members of the trade union GMB and they are not striking. However, some workers are Unison members so its impossible to predict the exact impact on refuse collections.
Of course, any industrial action has the possibility of an impact on front line services but it all depends on the scale of the industrial action.
Representing the employers side in the dispute local government National Joint Council chairman Brian Baldwin said: If the pay settlement is set any higher then councils will be forced into making unpalatable choices between cutting front line services and laying off staff. Neither unions nor employers want either of these options.
Unison will give seven days notice if calls a strike.