Breakthrough Plymouth council regrading deal for HGV drivers is a ‘wake up’ call for local authorities, says Unite

A ground breaking regrading deal for Plymouth city council’s HGV drivers is a ‘wake-up’ call for other local authorities to hike up pay rates in 2022, so there are enough drivers available to keep refuse collections running smoothly.

Unite the union said it had negotiated a job reclassification for the 46 drivers from ‘unskilled’ to ‘semi-skilled’ which means a 12.5 per cent pay uplift, worth about £3,000 a year. The new regrading payments were implemented on 1 January 2022.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “This groundbreaking deal hinged on the reclassification of the drivers. This should be a ‘wake-up’ call for other local councils in 2022 that they need to look at the nationally agreed local government pay rates to see where there is flexibility to raise wages for this group of key workers.

“There continues to be a nationwide shortage of HGV drivers and council bosses across the country need to take this into account if they want a fully-functioning refuse collection service which relies on these drivers, so the bins are emptied every week. Unite is dedicated to advancing the jobs, pay and conditions of all its HGV driver members.”

Unite regional officer Tim Morris said: “I would like to thank lead Unite rep Sharon Battishill and the shop stewards who focused on increasing the pay grade and amending the job role to gain this welcome uplift for the members. If you are driving an £80,000 vehicle that is a highly responsible job which has now been recognised.

“What has been achieved at Plymouth city council shows that by acting collectively local authority drivers can be regraded onto decent pay levels – and this could be a template for members at other local authorities.”