Page last updated at 10:56 GMT, Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Refuse collectors return to work

Refuse collectors march to the Cross Green depot in Leeds after reaching a pay deal

Refuse workers and street cleaners in Leeds have marched back to work, marking the end of the city's 11-week bin strike.

The workers returned to their depots in the city on Wednesday morning, before attending briefings with managers. Collections will resume on Thursday.

At a secret ballot of about 600 union members on Monday, 79% voted in favour of Leeds City Council's latest offer.

The offer means 20 staff will get a pay cut but most will get small increases.

Hundreds of workers walked out on 7 September over claims by the unions that a new pay system would have led to a wage cut of up to £5,000.

The offer accepted by the workers is dependent on productivity targets being met.

At the Cross Green depot, one worker said it had been a "great victory".

"We are shocked at the amount of time it's taken [to get the pay deal], but we are all happy that we stood together.

"We have always said we will do extra work from day one, but said we wouldn't take any pay cuts."

But another workers said some staff were unhappy that a minority of staff would still see a drop in their salaries.

Parliamentary motion

"We walked out of these gates saying we were not going to lose a penny, so some people do feel they have been let down," he said.

Colin Burgon, MP for the Elmet constituency in Leeds, said he had tabled a motion in parliament to establish how much the dispute had cost the council.

Councillor James Monaghan, executive board member with responsibility for refuse collection, said the strike had currently left the authority "£180,000 in credit".

He said it would take some months before the full additional costs of the dispute were known.

"What we are certain of is that the full cost of the strike will be far less than the £45m it would have cost if we'd given in to the unions' original demands," he said.

Mr Monaghan said the productivity gains secured as part of the deal would save the council about £2m per year.

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