A five-day strike involving more than 150 waste collection workers in Bexley has been called off after a pay deal was struck, averting a potential garbage crisis which could have seen thousands of homes miss out on their collections.

Unite, the union representing Bexley’s refuse workers, announced on Wednesday they would accept a revised pay deal from Serco, the company contracted by Bexley Council to provide waste collection and management services in the borough.

“Our members have voted to accept a revised pay offer from their employer Serco and, as a result, they have called off their five days of strike action that was due to have started tomorrow and run into next week,” Unite regional officer Ruth Hydon said.

“I would like to thank our members for the solidarity they have shown during this dispute that predates the lockdown in March.”

However, she added the union would continue to push for the contract to be brought back in-house, as the council weighs up whether to extend the contract with Serco for a further five years up to 2025.

“We believe that the contract should come back in-house as the best solution for the residents of Bexley and our members, and Unite will be campaigning to that end as councillors gear up to make that decision this autumn.”

Bexley Council last week said they were “optimistic” a strike could be avoided after the union announced their intention to take action.

Council leader Teresa O’Neill had earlier criticised the union for advising the strikes, a week after she called earlier action undertaken in the borough in March “absolutely appalling”, due to its proximity to the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s a disgrace that Unite are considering taking action in the middle of a public health pandemic,” she said last week.