Strike action set to be taken by North Herts binmen tomorrow in a row over sick pay and wages has been called off after successful negotiations.

GMB Union members working for council waste contractor Urbaser at its Letchworth and Buntingford sites had been planning strike action over the Christmas period, after negotiations for a pay rise and introduction of a company sick pay scheme failed.

It would have affected services in North and East Herts, with up to 70 GMB members, including bin lorry drivers, rubbish collectors and road sweepers, taking industrial action.

However, a last-minute deal has now been struck.

An 11 per cent pay rise has been accepted - a pay increase of up to £3,850 for some workers - GMB said, and the strike scheduled for tomorrow has been called off without any agreement on company sick pay.

GMB representative Michael Dooley said: "The pay increase was welcomed by many of our members, but it was disappointing that Urbaser did not include any sick pay as part of the deal.

"I cannot blame Urbaser entirely - their motive is to make profit.

"The problem we have is that 50% of Urbaser staff are non-union, some who were likely to cross the picket line. This left us in a weaker bargaining position.

"The 'I'm alright Jack' and loyalty to rich shareholders rather than to workmates and neighbours by half the Urbaser workers left us in a difficult position.

"However, we intend to press Urbaser for a company sick pay scheme in April next year."

The workers' 11 per cent pay increase will be backdated to April 2023, and a 4% increase in pay next year has been promised, GMB said.

Tim Guile, regional manager at Urbaser, said: "We are extremely pleased to have reached this agreement, averting the industrial action scheduled for Wednesday.

"We believe the agreement is a great result for all parties involved. It reflects Urbaser’s dedication to our employees' wellbeing and our commitment to providing high-quality services to the North and East Hertfordshire communities."

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Urbaser began a seven-year joint contract to provide waste collection and street cleansing services for North Herts Council and East Herts District Council in May 2018. They have negotiated a two-year agreement with GMB Union to ensure continuity of services in Hertfordshire for the remaining term of the contract.

"We extend our thanks to the GMB Union representatives and our employees for their cooperation and understanding throughout this process," Mr Guile said.