Coventry’s bin men have “reluctantly” returned to work after a dispute with the council over a suspended colleague – but they have warned more strikes could follow.
But union bosses say they now plan to hold an official vote on whether to take official strike action, which could mean further missed bin collections before the end of the month.
Mick Shortland, corporate representative for Unite, said: “They have reluctantly returned to work after management came in to remind them that it was unofficial action.
“They’ve returned to work subject to a ballot that will be put in place, that will possibly take up to two weeks minimum.”
Union members say a colleague has been treated unfairly after he was suspended following a row with management about a poster produced in support of two other colleagues who are currently going through a grievance procedure.
The refuse collectors were not paid for the time spent on unofficial strike, which saw about 30 bin men protest outside the Council House.
Mr Shortland added: “If the local authority thinks they’re going to isolate our colleague and that he won’t have the support of this union, they are sadly mistaken.
“We believe our compromise, put forward yesterday, would have allowed him to return to work at another location – but that was turned down.
“Hopefully the action sent a message. We were fully aware it was unofficial action, but the feeling was that strong in the workforce we felt we had no alternative to get our message over.
“Our concern is this will be dragged out for a long time by the council. We want to see a commitment for an investigation to be carried out as soon as possible and a fair process.”
Refuse collectors protest outside the Council House in Coventry.
More than 30,000 homes in the south east of the city were left with full bins on Tuesday and about a quarter of the city’s population were affected in areas such as Binley, Willenhall, Stoke, Cheylesmore and Ernesford Grange.
Council officials have confirmed uncollected bins from Tuesday will not be picked up until next week and have asked residents to take them back inside until the next collection.
Collections today are expected to go ahead as normal, although they could be slightly behind schedule.