More than 150 Bexley refuse workers are set to take renewed strike action, just days after the leader of the local council slammed the actions of the union-representing them as “absolutely appalling”.

The announcement by union Unite is the latest in a bitter continuation of a pay-spat involving public services outsourcing giant Serco and their Bexley workers.

Unite say the dispute has ignited again over what the union claims is a refusal of Serco bosses to pay the workers a minimum of £13 an hour, while also raising allegations of a “bullying culture” at the Crayford Road depot.

The upcoming strike action, which will commence on July 30 and last five working days, comes after the union last endorsed a day and a half-long strike on March 19 over pay issues.

Unite members called off their action before Boris Johnson announced the UK-wide coronavirus lockdown on March 23.

News Shopper: Bexley Council leader Teresa O'Neill, who called the union's sanctioning of a strike in March "absolutely appalling". Bexley Council leader Teresa O'Neill, who called the union's sanctioning of a strike in March "absolutely appalling".

The March action was slammed as “absolutely appalling” by council leader Teresa O’Neill at a meeting earlier this month, with the Conservative head saying it subsequently put refuse collections behind during the early weeks of the coronavirus pandemic.

The notion was rejected by Unite regional officer Ruth Hydon.

“The last day of strike action was on March 19 when we called off further strike days because of the pandemic and after Serco agreed to pay all our members sick pay for Covid-19 related absences,” she said.

“The latest round of industrial action has been sparked because Serco have failed to offer our members a decent wage. Their current paltry offer is £10.15 an hour – rejected by our members – is even below the London ‘living wage’, currently £10.75.”

She also said it had been rejected “because Serco has failed to deal with an insidious bullying culture at the Crayford depot”.

The five days of strike action are set for July 30, 31 and August 3,4 and 6, running from 5am to 9am each day.

 Cllr O’Neill’s comments came after Labour’s Stef Borella asked the leader to confirm that “despite the coronavirus lockdown and before coronavirus lockdown” that the service from Serco “is not good enough”.

He also asked if the council would consider not extending their contract for waste and recycling service post 2021.

Cllr Teresa O’Neill responded: “I will definitely confirm I was absolutely appalled the union decided to carry on with a strike in the first week of a public health pandemic.

“That was absolutely appalling, that strike then put Serco operatives behind the collections…I really don’t think it’s the time now to be attacking them, but conversations about our services and what will happen going forward will involve scrutiny members.”

“But if Cllr Borello wants to do something productive, then he should be speaking to the union that carried on with a strike in the pandemic,” she finished.

Of the latest news regarding the union, Philip Bovis, Serco’s Contract Manager, said: “We are working constructively with Unite and hope to achieve a resolution to this dispute”.

In a separate development, Unite said “some progress” had been made after a meeting with Serco, following concerns over a lack of adequate social distancing measures in place at the Thames Road depot at Crayford.

Unite said there were still some outstanding issues that “needed to be addressed”.