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Southampton faces second strike by refuse collection workers

Refuse collectors in Southampton have launched a 14-day strike following allegations that the city council is cutting staff wages by 4.5%.

Around 112 refuse workers, who are all Unite union members, began strike action on 8 June in protest about the on-going dispute over “inferior” contracts being imposed by the council on its 4,300 employees.

In May, 108 refuse staff launched a five-day strike, while others took steps short of a strike, including ‘work to rule’ practices and a ban on overtime.

Unite regional officer Ian Woodland said: “Support for the workers locally is strong because people understand that, while the council may hit wages now, it won’t be long before they come for the services too.

“If councillor Royston Smith [leader of the council] genuinely wants to bring peace to this city, he should fly back from his holidays and sit down with the workers and their unions. That is the sort of behaviour the people of this city expect to see from their leader.”

A statement from the council said: “A meeting between the council and the unions with Acas (the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) has been arranged for 16 June to try to end the dispute. We want to resolve the current situation as quickly as possible and the council is prepared to compromise. However, this needs to be against the context of a £65 million funding gap. If we delay the implementation of the changes or if we reduce the impact on staff pay, we will have to find the money from somewhere else which means redundancies and cuts to public services are inevitable.”

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