Waverley Borough Council has conceded its claim that a three-week walkout by Biffa waste collection staff was only a ‘partial’ strike “might have confused things a little”.

The council initially played down the strike action after GMB members, employed by the council’s waste contractor Biffa, rejected a pay deal on Thursday and immediately commenced the first day of picketing.

Waverley also urged residents to put out their bins as usual, telling councillors “most of the staff elected to continue to work in the spirit of goodwill”.

Many residents in the borough have since reported their bins have been collected as planned on both Thursday and Friday.

But the council’s claims of a ‘partial’ strike have been disputed by the GMB, with a union spokesman telling the Herald it was “definite” that the majority of workers are out on strike.

The GMB representative added: “If there were refuse collectors going out on rounds, these would have been agency staff. By our calculations though, 12 of the 19 rounds were not carried out, so around two thirds.”

Responding on Friday, a Waverley council spokesman confessed its claims of a ‘partial’ strike were confusing.

The spokesperson added: “This is a fluid situation. We are working hard with Biffa to prioritise waste collections and we understand that the majority of services were completed as normal yesterday and they are on track to do so again today.

“Where services have been affected, Biffa will seek to complete collections, over the coming days and we will continue to keep residents informed via our website and social media channels.  The council is unable to comment on Biffa’s resourcing arrangements.”

The dispute centres around pay, with members unhappy with the pay offer their employer has made, which they say falls “well below” the current rate of inflation.

The industrial action will affect kerbside collections within Godalming, Farnham, Haslemere, Cranleigh and the surrounding areas.

It is set to continue until November 23, with street cleaning services also affected.