Up to 250,000 homes across Wiltshire face not having their bins collected as the threat of strike action looms in a pay row.

Around 60 workers at Hills Waste Solutions bases in Trowbridge, Calne and Salisbury are being balloted by their union about taking industrial action in March.

The possible strike centres on demands for a seven per cent pay rise against the company’s offer of a below-inflation two per cent increase.

The waste workers’ union, the GMB, is warning of “severe disruption” across the county if a strike goes ahead.

The company says has asked for talks with the union, but the union claims that it has not received the request.

The GMB said: “Members working at refuse and recycling services based in Trowbridge, Salisbury and Calne will undertake an industrial action ballot which, if supported by GMB members, could potentially see strike action as early as March affecting up to as many as 250,000 homes across the county.

“The ballot, which opens on January 21st and runs until February 4th, is over Hills imposition of a 2 per cent pay award and failure to negotiate meaningfully with the GMB Unions Refuse, Recycling, HGV holders and drivers, along with the loaders and operatives demands for a 7 per cent increase, and settlement over unfair distributions of bonus payments, equal pay issues and Christmas working arrangements.

GMB regional organiser Nicola Nixon added: “It’s a shame that lack of meaningful engagement and negotiation is the catalyst for members having to take this action, but that’s Hills’ choice.

“The multitude of various contracts has led to management using it as an opportunity to take advantage of workers doing the same job by treating them differently and competitively across all three sites.

“With Inflation and the cost-of-living outstripping Hills’ offer by as much as three times, those least able to cope with another in work poverty pay rise have had enough, and like other recent GMB campaigns refuse and recycling HGV drivers, loaders and operatives are recognising their own true value in the workplace and for the work they do.

“Strikes are always the last resort, but our members who only last year were being commended and classed as key workers in collecting domestic waste and recycling from households during the Coronavirus pandemic by the public and their employer alike, now they find that same employer doesn’t fully value them or the service they provide. What choice have Hills left GMB members with?”

Ms Nixon said drivers are currently earning an average of £10.50 an hour and loaders are paid approximately £9.58 an hour.

In a statement, the company said today: “Hills Municipal Collections Limited is disappointed that the GMB Union have elected to ballot their members on industrial action at this time. Hills Municipal Collections has not had an opportunity to meet with any GMB Union representative regarding the current pay review.

“Hills Municipal Collections would welcome the opportunity to hold constructive and meaningful negotiations as set out in correspondence to the GMB Union on 19 January and awaits their response, following which the company can hope to resolve the matter.”

But Ms Nixon said the union had not received a request for talks.

“We are always happy to meet with employers but we have not been asked to do so, and we are disappointed that we have not been asked to do so,” she said.

“Our members continued to work all through the pandemic, turning out every day when other people were working from home. We hope that Wiltshire residents will get behind our members and support them as they provide an excellent and valuable service.”

Her union colleague, GMB regional organiser Gary Palmer, added: “Hills workers want better pay and recognition for themselves, and quite rightly so, especially with their knowing that, whilst arguing poverty, Hills were still able to pay shareholders a divided.

“The GMB’s job is to seek to put them in the very best position we can regarding pay rates, and that’s exactly what we will do. Hills can be assured that the GMB will and does fully support members if a walk-out is necessary to bring employers like Hills back to the table.”

Wiltshire Council reportedly said the matter was between Hills and GMB, but that it would continue to monitor the situation.

Dr Mark McClelland, Wiltshire Council cabinet member for waste, told the BBC: "If there was industrial action, it may affect some of the waste collection services we provide.

"We are hopeful that the two parties can resolve this matter without the need for strike action, but if not, we are working closely with Hills to ensure that any potential disruption would be kept to a minimum."