Bin collectors in Northampton turned down a pay deal which would have left them worse off than the lowest paid council workers before voting to go on strike.
Contractors Veolia’s first offer to around 70 GMB members was based around the new national living wage of £9.50 an hour.
According to the union, Veolia later increased its offer to £10 an hour for loaders and £12 for drivers — which it says still represents a below-inflation increase of around seven percent — plus a one-off £400 'bonus'.
That, too, was rejected and further talks are planned for Tuesday (April 19) over another improved offer in a bid to avert industrial action which could leave uncollected rubbish piling up in the town.
Around 70 refuse collectors in the town are angry over ‘a real-terms pay cut’, with inflation running at nearly nine percent and cost of the living soaring.
Industrial action could begin later this month affecting 94,000 homes after 79 percent of those who voted were in favour of strike action over what the union calls “penny pinching”.
Dave Warwick, GMB organiser, said: "The council has given Veolia a big funding increase to battle inflation but the company won't pass any on to workers.
"Now they must deal with the consequences: Dirty streets and huge disruption for the residents of Northampton."
West Northamptonshire took over responsibility for waste services from the former Northampton Borough Council as part of the local government shake-up last year.
It also replaced Daventry and South Northamptonshire district councils as environmental service authorities. But waste collections in those areas are provided under different contracts and unaffected by the Northampton dispute.
A Veolia spokesperson said on Wednesday (April 13): “We have made two improved pay offers and are now awaiting feedback from local members.
"We remain committed to finding a resolution for our staff and avoiding any disruption to residents’ collections.”
A West Northamptonshire Council spokesperson said: “As part of the contract, Veolia have the responsibility to ensure contingency plans are in place to ensure there is a continuity of service to the people of Northampton.”