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Refuse and recycling drivers and loaders at Reigate and Banstead Borough Council are planning strikes over the summer unless last-minute talks this week are successful.

The dispute centres on new staff contracts that remove bank holiday overtime pay. Almost 90% of the 51 staff members, which includes 25 drivers, voted 97% in favour of striking to protest the contracts.

Under the new contract the staff will get an extra five days holiday a year but will no longer receive a paid one-day holiday for working a bank holiday.

Speaking to MT, GMB official Paul Grafton said: “The council may have given the workforce an extra five days holiday but there are eight bank holidays a year. What the council is doing is forcing the staff to work on bank holidays for no extra money.”

Grafton also expressed disappointment that while the workforce had honoured a recently forged ACAS Binding Arbitration agreement that also included a two-year pay and progression freeze, the council had failed to observe the agreement by changing the terms and conditions of the new contract.

He added: “GMB has sought a mandate from its members for action as the council wilfully breached an ACAS Binding Arbitration agreement. GMB have been in talks for more than a year on services and pay and agreed to a rather unpalatable two-year pay freeze suggested by ACAS for its members.

"GMB members confirmed they would honour the agreement, as did the council, and in writing. The level of contempt the council has showed its workforce is appalling and shameful when they breached the agreement and implemented new terms and conditions of employment.”

The GMB are meeting the council tomorrow (26 June 2017) to discuss the issue. Grafton said it was a “last-minute” meeting offered by the council following the ballot.

He added that “we are not expecting them to move on their position”.

If tomorrow’s talks fail to reach an agreement, strikes will begin from the second week of July and consist of a series of two-, three- and four-day walkouts over the next few months.