Serious disruption could hit bin collections across Slough if the town’s refuse collectors agree to strike, a union has said.

The Unite union is threatening to ballot its binmen for strike action after Slough Borough Council suspended one of its senior members, Peter Nolan, over claims he was undermining the refuse collection service.

Unite says strike action could begin as early as May or early June – with a vote taking place next week if Mr Nolan is dismissed at a hearing on Tuesday.

Mr Nolan is facing a gross misconduct hearing on ‘trumped up charges’, according to Unite, but if they are dropped, a ballot is unlikely.

The council says Mr Nolan is facing serious allegations, including those of bullying, and it must follow the HR process. It claims the majority of its binmen are not Unite members.

A Unite spokesman said: “The strikes would cause serious disruption and the council is aware of this and are trying to make contingencies which will not work.”

Unite says Mr Nolan, who has been a binman for around 25 years, had stood up for fellow workers after management put pressure on them not to return to their depot for lunch breaks – and instead remain on the road. It says this is despite the workers having no access to washing facilities and consuming food ‘in highly unsanitary conditions with a high chance of contracting diseases’.

Unite says an agreement had been reached in January 2016 for breaks to be taken at the depot, but this is now being undermined.

The spokesman added: “Management has claimed the decision to undermine the agreement, end lunch breaks and insist on an earlier start time was through the consensus of the workforce, however they excluded the union and made no consideration of the early start time having serious safety implications especially in the winter months.”

A consultative ballot has already resulted in support for a formal strike poll if the council dismisses Mr Nolan.

Unite regional officer Bob Middleton said: “If our members take strike action this summer there is likely to be a stench in Slough entirely of the council’s own making. Residents worried that their bins won’t be emptied should be angry with the council for creating this mess.”

A council spokeswoman said: “The allegations against Mr Nolan, put forward by several members of staff, include bullying and harassment.

“We take any allegations of this sort very seriously and have launched an investigation as per our policy. Suspension is a neutral act, designed to ensure an investigation can take place without constraint. We will not pre-empt the hearing next week nor will our actions and investigation be affected by threats of strike action.

“The vast majority of our environmental services workforce do not belong to the Unite union and we are confident, should strike action go ahead, we can continue to provide the usual bin collection service for our residents.”