Coventry City Council said it was “bitterly disappointed” that the bin lorry driver strike took so long to resolve after a deal was finally reached with the Unite union last week.

The row, which started in January, ended with an agreement that HGV drivers would receive a pay rise worth up to 12.9%, Christmas bonuses worth around £4,000 and that disciplinary charges against a union shop steward would be dropped.

However, the council said that although it welcomed the end of the strike action, the dispute had created net cost pressures of more than £4m, largely through a mixture of paying for mitigation measures for waste collection and a substantial loss in commercial waste income.

It said that at times the strike had felt more like an employment dispute and that council officers had been targeted through coordinated and misleading attacks by an activist group funded by the union.

Andrew Walster, city council director for streetscene and regulatory services, said: “Although agreement has finally been reached, as a council we are bitterly disappointed that it has taken so long to get here.

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“This deal could have been agreed much sooner. The core elements regarding the minimum salary for bin lorry drivers has been on the table since January this year.

“In fact, the changes to weekend working to boost pay for all drivers – which is within the council’s existing terms and conditions – is something that was initially offered in November last year before drivers were balloted.

“The biggest frustration has been the disruption households have at times had to endure because of this action,” he added.

“However, some of the feedback we have received about the mitigation measures has been that the service has actually improved, and we are determined this improvement will continue.”

Unite General Secretary Sharon Graham said: “This win shows the new direction of Unite.

“We will defend our members' pay and conditions, however long it takes. This continuous action has delivered real terms pay increases for our members.”