Bin wagon drivers in Gwynedd say they feel ‘worthless’ after working through COVID, claiming the council is saving thousands by avoiding giving them a pay rise.
Drivers claim they asked for a pay review over three years ago, insisting that, under council policy, Gwynedd must then back pay salaries to the date of the request – if the rise were to be granted.
But drivers say their back pay can only be paid up to two years from the date of the request, and any additional accumulated wages are lost.
Refuse drivers say the council has ignored the original date of the request made in January 2019, and consequently workers raised a grievance in February 2020.
But despite working in close contact with colleagues throughout the pandemic, the council is yet to agree to a pay rise.
The trade union Unite is currently in negotiation with Gwynedd County Council. Whilst drivers’ pay is being negotiated, the Local Democracy Service has been told refuse loaders’ salaries are not being discussed.
But one anonymous driver slammed the council, claiming council refuse workers had risked their lives every day whilst many office workers worked from the safety of home.
“It is a bit disappointing, to be honest. We have worked through COVID. It’s been hard for everyone, in the last two years,” he said.
“We are entitled to the back pay. We’ve worked through the pandemic. You would think the council would think we deserve it. It’s our money. We are entitled to it. At the end of the day, if you owe a pound to the council tax, they’d be after you. So why are they holding on to our pay? Why are they trying not to pay us? They are trying everything.
“They are blaming the budget. We have had to go into work every day. We’ve been at more risk than the office workers. Loads of people have had COVID. It was riddled at one time. Some have had COVID three times.”
He added: “I feel worthless, to be honest with you. I feel absolutely unappreciated and worthless. We are nobody. That is how most of us feel. Council tax is going up again this year. It is shocking. I don’t know why they are trying to get away with it.
“They promised a pay review in 2019, and we had to put in a grievance in 2021 because they still hadn’t committed.”
A Gwynedd Council Spokeswoman commented: “During 2021 the Highways and Municipal Department decided to introduce additional responsibilities to some specific roles within the Refuse and Recycling Service.
“As a result the salary grades for those roles increased, with the decision duly implemented in December 2021. We however remain in discussions with the recognised trade unions on the specific date of implementation for this change, and it would therefore be inappropriate for us to provide further comment relating to those conversations at this stage.”
A spokesman for the union Unite said it was in negotiation and declined to comment at this time.