Coventry & Warwickshire

Coventry refuse collectors to lose Christmas bonus

Refuse collectors in Coventry are set to lose a Christmas bonus over fears it could lead to equal pay claims.

Since 2010, the workers have received an extra £100 each, to reflect the additional waste produced over the festive period.

However, bosses have now said the risk of claims from staff doing extra work at other times of the year was too great to warrant the bonuses.

The Unite union said the decision had not prompted worker opposition.

Instead of the payments, Coventry City Council will bring in temporary staff to help clear Christmas waste.

'Male-dominated'

The Labour-led council said employing the additional staff - including an extra person for each three-man team - would cost an estimated £75,000.

Over the last two years bonuses have cost a total of £9,000 a year.

According to a private report for the council, the payments were introduced on the "explicit direction" of then leader John Mutton, after a request during a visit to a depot in Whitley.

The report said dangers of equal pay claims had been identified in 2010, but that Mr Mutton "did not accept this view".

Mr Mutton told the BBC he had instead been concerned to avoid previous disputes, which led to bins uncollected for seven weeks.

Current director of city services Martin Yardley, said the previous administration, also Labour, had felt the extra payment was the cheapest solution to reflecting the additional work performed by crews over the Christmas period.

'Possible disruption'

However, the local authority has now said waste collection crews were "male dominated" and the report said there was a fear other staff, including care workers, could bring claims against the council.

Earlier this month, Birmingham City Council settled a total of 11,000 equal pay claims, dating back to 2008, mainly brought by female workers who had missed out on bonuses.

In October 2012, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of 174 claimants, ordering the authority to pay out at least £757m.

Coventry council said it was in talks with unions, but admitted there was a danger of "disruption" over the Christmas period.

Unite said it was expecting "business as usual", despite the bonuses being withdrawn.

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