Thousands of households in the east Suffolk district could be left without a bin collection service after refuse workers voted for strike action.

Refuse workers in east Suffolk overwhelmingly voted for strike action after rejecting a pay offer, UNISON said.

Staff employed by waste management firm Norse, jointly owned by East Suffolk Council and Norse Commercial Services, voted 96 per cent in favour of strike action in a ballot by the public service union.

The union said staff are calling for a pay deal that brings them in line with refuse workers elsewhere, as well as contractual sick pay.

East Suffolk Norse has offered workers a £1,925 rise negotiated for most directly employed local government staff, as well as an additional 75p an hour.

But UNISON said that pay on the East Suffolk contract is so low the rise would still leave workers struggling.

While no dates have yet been set for the walkout, the union is hoping for an improved offer to avoid strikes.

UNISON Eastern regional organiser Cameron Matthews said: “Refuse workers are desperate to avoid any disruption to the communities they serve, but they can’t survive on East Suffolk Norse wages much longer.

“The employer’s offer may seem sizeable but pay has been stagnant for so long that it falls short of a decent wage.

“We’re not asking for the world, just enough to live on.

"We urge East Suffolk Council and Norse to come back with a meaningful improvement that rewards the vital jobs these workers do.”

An East Suffolk Council spokesman said: “A generous offer has been made to operational staff by Waveney Norse and Suffolk Coastal Norse Ltd, which in some cases would see salaries rise by 17pc.

"In addition, a commitment has been made to a full review of terms and conditions, with the possibility of a further productivity-related pay review.

“Everyone is facing cost of living pressures currently, and in these difficult times, we have worked hard to seek a resolution, in good faith.

"Industrial action would be in nobody’s interest and it will be our customers, who rely on these services, that will suffer the most.

“It has been made clear to the unions that not every demand can be met, and we would make the point, once again, that they are not showing a realistic understanding of what is fair and achievable.”

Norse Group has been approached for comment.