Workers employed by Veolia on its commercial bin collection service are balloting for industrial action in a dispute over pay.

As we went to press, both sides were accusing each other of disregarding the facts and misleading information after the Unite union claimed Veolia had imposed a pay freeze, which was costing employees £20 a week.

But Veolia hit back, saying it had been very clear to the trade union it was not proposing a pay freeze.

Unite said businesses across the UK could be facing a “big stink” this summer, if members at 25 depots across the UK decide to down tools in June, right at the point when the economy is due to fully reopen.

It also complained that Veolia staff on its domestic waste contract had received a Covid-19 bonus for working through the pandemic while their counterparts on the commercial waste contract who continued working, received nothing.

In a statement, a Veolia spokeswoman said: “Veolia has been notified by Unite of their intention to hold a ballot for their members in our commercial business.

“Contrary to Unite’s press release, we have been very clear that we are not proposing a pay freeze in 2021.

“Unite’s press release is inaccurate and misleading to our employees, who are being asked to vote on whether or not to take strike action.”

Asked to respond to Veolia’s comments, Matt Draper, Unite national officer, said the company was disregarding the facts: “Workers were due to receive a pay increase from 1 January this year,” he said.

“Five months later Veolia has not offered a pay rise or even scheduled a meeting to discuss pay.

“Veolia can’t simply suggest that they intend to make a pay offer unless those warm words are backed up with action.

“If it looks like a pay freeze and feels like a pay freeze then as far as our members are concerned it is a pay freeze,” he added.

The ballot opens tomorrow (Friday 21 May) and closes on Monday 7 June.