Furious Black Country binmen who are planning to strike today revealed they are set to lose up to £8,000 under a controversial pay shake-up.
Refuse workers are now voting on industrial action that could see rubbish pile up in the streets of Sandwell for more than two months. The binmen spoke to the Express & Star at their
Shidas Lane depot in Oldbury early this morning ahead of a crunch meeting with council bosses. They said morale was at an all-time low and a strike was inevitable.
Tom Smith, aged 59 of Wallace Road, Oldbury, has been on the bins for 26 years and said he was going to lose £8,250 a year under the pay shake-up.
The grandfather-of-four said: "I am set to lose a huge amount of money and I would ask the bosses at the council how they would feel if someone took £8,000 from their pay packets.
"My children are grown up and my mortgage is nearly paid off but there are young lads here with families who are going to be really badly hit."
The early-morning meeting today was between the refuse collectors, unions and Jan Britton, from Sandwell Council.
Strike plans have been in the air ever since Sandwell Council introduced new pay scales six months ago.
Brian Rickers from the Unite union said today up to 170 staff could be involved in the walk-out. Darren James from union GMB said his members were voting on industrial action today and the others would follow.
Sandwell Council's cabinet member for safer neighbourhoods Cllr Derek Rowley said: "The binmen have been evaluated for single status and have been through a fair and robust appeals process. We've looked at all of the job elements very carefully as part of the evaluation and again during the appeal process.
"The salary for the binmen will be £17,800 and for a driver £21,500, which we feel are fair rates for these jobs.
"Any strike action would be deeply regrettable. We will do all we can to keep services going for the people of Sandwell if such action goes ahead."