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Vehicle fleet staff join Southampton waste workers' strike

Staff maintaining Southampton City Council’s fleet of refuse collection vehicles will join council workers in another week of strike action from today (11 July).

Fourteen of the council’s environmental fleet transport workers, who repair RCVs, parks vans and other council vehicles, along with 13 port health officers, will join the 120 waste collection workers and 60 street cleansing workers in a five-day walkout.

Staff are striking over allegations that the council is “sacking” its workforce and re-employing them on 5% reduced wages.

Guidance to residents on Southampton council’s website states: “The council has tried to collect as much of the waste in the city as possible during the last few days. However, we know many homes in the city will still not have had their bins collected.”

The council is sending out RCVs to collect rubbish, and will prioritise areas of health concern and fire risk. The council has said it will attempt to clear general household waste, but has warned “we may not be able to get to your waste this week”.

Council leader cllr Royston Smith said: “We have put a new offer to the trade unions, to protect anyone earning less than £22,000 from getting a pay cut, including most bin men. Unfortunately this offer has been rejected and the strikes continue.

“We have more than £75 million of savings to find in the next four years. Job losses are inevitable however we will save many more people from losing their jobs because of these terms and condition changes.

“In the meantime we will continue to do all we can to mitigate the impact of the strikes on our residents. This week, for example, we will have eight trucks collecting household waste while the strikes are on.”

The Unison union’s regional organiser Andy Straker said: “Southampton workers from the kerbside to the dockside are now striking against [council leader] Royston Smith’s cuts. This is a phenomenal statement about this employer’s extremely poor handling of this dispute.”

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