An eight-day strike by refuse drivers in the London borough of Barking and Dagenham went ahead today over wage cuts.
More than 100 members of the GMB union walked out in a dispute over what they say is a £1,000 a year cut in their pay resulting from the council cutting corners on the safety of refuse vehicles. Talks at Acas ended without agreement.
The council hit back, branding the GMB claim as 'irresponsible' and accusing the union of 'holding residents to ransom' in the dispute over overtime payments to carry out pre-start inspections.
It said the union's claim would cost £690,000 in one-off payments alone.
The union says its members stand to lose £1,000 a year and that the council has offered them a one-off £300 'goodwill gesture', subsequently increased to £400.
Brian Strutton, GMB national secretary for public services, said: 'Having told them that a loss of £1,000 a year for life would require considerable compensation - we suggested £5,000 - I think it is pretty obvious that there is a huge gap between us.'
Cllr Dominic Twomey, deputy leader of the council and cabinet member for finance, said: 'The GMB want a £5,000 one-off payment for each driver plus 20 minutes overtime which is clearly irresponsible at a time when we have to make significant savings and is not in the best interest of our residents.
'It would cost the council £690,000 in one-off payments alone when we have to make £39m savings over the next two years. There is no way we will let the GMB hold us or our residents to ransom.'
Mr Stratton said that following talks at Acas the council's management did a deal with Unison and Unite who he says do not have any members involved in the strike.