Waste strikes across Somerset

Somerset Council is warning of a major disruption to its waste collections. Unite has announced strikes starting on Wednesday 12 July. They will strike on Wednesday, Thursday Friday, each week until Friday 4 August.

The planned action follows unsuccessful annual pay negotiations between the Unite union and Suez UK. Suez is the council’s collections contractor. An initial 5.8% increase has been rejected by the union. A recent ballot of Unite members was in favour of industrial action. A further offer of 8% from Suez has also been rejected.

Talks continue in the ongoing pay dispute between the union and Suez. In theory industrial action could be called off as late as the afternoon of Tuesday 11 July. But that would require compromise.

Somerset is not the only council to face strike action by waste collection workers. Eleven other councils nationally face similar strikes. However most councils will not have strikes this summer.

Mickey Green, Somerset Council’s Executive Director for Climate and Place, has no words of comfort. He says: “If these strikes go ahead, major disruption and inconvenience is unavoidable. We’ll do what we can to manage it, but if the staff aren’t available you simply can’t get the waste off the ground. This could be a very difficult period and would ask for the public’s patience.”

In practical terms residents are asked to:

  • ·     Put waste out on the usual day but expect missed collections.
  • ·     Put it out before 7am, even if your collection is usually later.
  • ·     If recycling or garden waste is missed, bring it back in until your next collection day. Don’t report it.
  • ·     If refuse or clinical is missed, leave it out and report it as missed, online if possible.

Please note that from 17 July onwards crews will accept one additional black sack of refuse at the side of the bin.

All 16 of Somerset’s recycling sites will be open as usual and can take almost all the materials collected at the kerbside, as well as refuse as a last resort. 


  • “If recycling or garden waste is missed, bring it back in until your next collection day. Don’t report it.”

    Am I to assume they’ll try to collect next available day? Given our usual day is Thursday, that raises the potential spectre of waste not being collected until post 4th August. Sure, I can run it up the HWRC, but I already pay a hiked (again) Council Tax. Can I get a refund for my time/fuel?

    • Anyone whose collections are missed should be refunded a portion of their council tax. After all, we pay council tax for public services – if they aren’t delivered we should be due a refund. That’s the way it would work commercially. You pay for services rendered.

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