Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Southampton City Council refuse collectors on strike

The refuse collectors on strike in Southampton
Image caption The strike is the start of ongoing "rolling" industrial action by council workers

About 100 refuse collectors have started a five-day strike in Southampton in a bid to stop proposed pay cuts of up to 5.5%.

Workers from Unite and Unison voted in favour of action earlier this month.

The Local Government Association said it was the first walk-out involving the whole council in England since the government's spending review.

The Conservative-run city council said the alternative to pay cuts was to lose another 400 staff on top of 285.

Dozens of workers are on picket lines outside the city council building and at Town Depot, Albert Road.

The strike by refuse collectors is the start of ongoing "rolling" industrial action by the city council workers.

On Tuesday, the unions will announce which section of the council will walk out next week.

'Blackmailing' staff

The action could also affect street cleaning, care services and parking services.

In February, councillors finalised budget cuts of £25m and said all workers earning more than £17,500, which is 65% of staff, would have their pay cut by reducing working hours.

The council, which employs about 6,600 staff, has been accused by unions of "blackmailing" staff into accepting the pay cuts or the extra job losses.

Leader of the Conservative-run council, Royston Smith, previously said he understood that "many people are unhappy about the proposals" but the alternative was to lose another 400 jobs.

Unite said it had balloted 692 members working for the council and they had voted 51% in favour of strike action and 85% in favour of industrial action short of strike action. The turn-out was 42%.

Unison balloted 1,800 workers and they voted 56.5% in favour of strike action. Eight hundred school-based Unison members were not included in the ballot.

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