DOZENS of binmen joined picket lines to fight proposed changes to terms and conditions that a union claims could see workers lose up to £3,000 a year.

The binmen have downed tools and will only collect food and general waste until May 7.

Unite the union says the strike is over Thurrock Council’s plans to “brutally cut their pay and conditions”.

The union claims refuse workers, highways maintenance and street cleaning teams - who have been providing key services throughout the current health crisis - are the target of proposed cuts up to £3,500.

But Thurrock Council insists the union signed an agreement which included £800,000 investment in pay in the first year of a four-year pay deal.

Organisers said the picket line, in the shadow of the M25 flyover, had attracted dozens of supporters

One bin worker, 47, from South Ockenden who attended said: “We’re happy to be standing up for ourselves and fighting against cuts that will leave us worse off every month and nobody here is really willing to back down.

“While we’re prepared to keep this going, we’d much rather the council meet with us and work with us to take these cuts off the table.”

Unite regional officer Michelle Cook said: “Unite will not accept these proposals to slash the pay of these council heroes who have provided essential services to the residents of Thurrock throughout this pandemic.”

Thurrock Council bosses hit out at the decision and say they are extremely disappointed at the strike action as formal consultations are still ongoing with trade unions and staff.

A spokesman said: “Continued claims that the council is cutting the annual salary of staff who work in any council service are simply untrue.

“Proposed changes will impact staff across the council, not just those in the waste service, and for the vast majority this is a positive change.

“Overall the Pay Review, including the current proposed changes to allowances, result in 93 per cent of council staff being better off financially than they were before the pay review began.”