REFUSE workers celebrated a landmark victory yesterday after a privateer waste disposal firm was forced to cough up more holiday pay for its staff.
French profiteer Veolia Environmental Services, which has contracts with councils across Britain for waste collection, had forked out huge sums in a two-year legal battle against workers’ demands for voluntary overtime to be taken into account when calculating holiday pay.
Union Unite took two test cases involving Bromley and Camden councils in London to an employment tribunal to challenge the company’s refusal.
The tribunal in Watford ruled that voluntary overtime must be included in the holiday pay calculation — a ruling which will benefit thousands of workers.
Veolia had claimed it was not including overtime in the calculation because of “Brexit legal uncertainty.” But at the tribunal it made no legal arguments to justify its position.
Unite national officer for local government Fiona Farmer said: “We will now be seeking a national agreement with Veolia covering all holiday pay issues.
“This judgement will have widespread implications for the several thousand members we have working for Veolia Environmental Services across Britain, who should be getting average holiday pay and could be in line for backdated payments.
“We do question why the company spent more than two years and enormous legal bills fighting this flagrant lack of acknowledgement of EU law.”
Unite warned that there are thousands more claims that can and will be lodged if Veolia does not work with the union to resolve all members’ holiday pay issues.