Harlow refuse workers are set to vote on strike action after a union gave the company that runs collections an ultimatum.

The union, UNISON Eastern, has told Harlow Council contractor Veolia that workers in Harlow will vote on industrial action unless the firm commits to negotiations by the end of the week.

UNISON points to the lack of any pay rise last year, set to be made up for by a 7% rise for the two years. The union highlights this is still below the 9% inflation rate and therefore a real-terms cut.

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Unison say that the contractor is refusing to negotiate locally on pay, however, a spokesperson for Veolia said: "We are working with UNISON's regional office to find a way forward to support our teams."

Workers in the Mead Park depot are prepared to vote on the strike action, which would hit bin collection in the area, if they do not get a response by the end of the week.

UNISON Eastern regional manager Caroline Hennessy said: “Veolia’s staff are livid that the company is planning to impose a real-terms pay cut without even giving them the opportunity to talk about it.

“With spiralling energy and fuel costs, this rise will barely help refuse workers to keep their heads above water.

“No-one at the depot wants a strike or to inconvenience the people of Harlow, but Veolia is leaving us with no choice but to ballot. Bosses won’t even get around the table to discuss pay.

“The company can avoid any action by treating these workers with respect, committing to talk and making an offer that doesn’t leave staff worse off.”

A spokesperson for Harlow Council said “Harlow Council is monitoring this situation very carefully and urges both parties to sit down to resolve any concerns.

“It is hoped that strike action can be avoided. We know that the local bin crews do an amazing job, and they deserve the opportunity to share their concerns about the pay offer.

Epping Forest Guardian:

“We hope that a way forward is found and will be working with Veolia to do all that we can to ensure that residents receive the service they are entitled to expect.”