Refuse workers from UNISON's Eastern region have voted 97% in favour of strikes in the hope of securing a better pay offer.
They received nothing last year, with employer Veolia offering 7% for 2021 and 2022. Inflation currently stands at 9.1%, wiping out the value of that rise.
The company had been refusing to even talk about pay at the Mead Park depot, but has now agreed to meet.
UNISON is urging Veolia to come to the negotiating table with a new offer and avoid disruption to the public, before it announces strike dates.
UNISON regional manager Caroline Hennessy said: "Harlow's refuse workers have made their feelings known. They won't accept another year of tightening their belts and struggling to make ends meet.
"No-one at the depot wants to strike and stop providing their vital service to the public. But they've just got no other options.
"Veolia has refused to even talk to staff about a meaningful pay rise. The ball is entirely in the company's court. If Veolia bosses want to avoid missed collections and rubbish piling up in the summer heat, they can make an offer that doesn't leave bin workers worse off."
Workers at Mead Park voted 97% in favour of strike action on a 97% turnout. They will now discuss the next steps and announce strike dates in due course."
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