On the Picket Line

Refuse workers in London win pay raise after strike

By Dag Tirsén
July 10, 2023

WELWYN GARDEN CITY, England — Refuse workers here and in Hatfield, towns north of London, returned to work June 23 after striking for better pay four days earlier. Employed by the waste-collection outfit Urbaser, more than 90 members of the Unite union had rejected a company offer of a 6.8% pay raise and were demanding 18%, overtime pay and better sick pay.

Thirty strikers had mounted a lively picket line June 19, and were greeted by passing motorists blowing their horns to show their support.

“Something is happening in the unions today,” Dean Smith, a refuse truck driver, told the Militant. “Many thought that the unions were finished after the [Prime Minister Margaret] Thatcher years, but look at this now. And we are not alone.”

Unite reported workers decided to end their strike after the company increased its pay offer to 13.5%.

“The union came out stronger,” striker Michael Smith told the Militant.