Crunch talks in Sheffield waste strikes

Strike: Pickets at Blackstock Road.
Strike: Pickets at Blackstock Road.
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WORKERS from Sheffield’s ‘dump-it’ sites are meeting today to discuss a latest pay offer aimed at heading off the risk of six more days of strike action.

Staff at the five household waste recycling centres - Deepcar, Gleadless Valley, High Green, Shirecliffe and Woodhouse - have received a new pay and conditions offer after talks between their union the GMB, contractors Sova and Veolia, and Sheffield Council.

A council source said: “The GMB has given notification of two-day strikes each weekend through September so there are potentially another six days of strike action to go.

“A meeting will take place between the union and its members and the GMB is recommending the workers accept the offer.”

Sheffield Council has not revealed details of the offer, which is thought to be an improvement on the previous proposals for staff to be paid an average of 31 hours a week throughout the year, up from an original offer of 29 hours.

Workers are unhappy the council has reduced opening hours and days at the five sites due to budget cuts, which mean the staff will no longer have full-time hours.

The authority said all five sites reopened as normal yesterday after the latest two-day strike at the weekend.

Concerns about fly-tipping resulting from the cut in household rubbish collections have been voiced by property developer David Slater, former chairman of Hallam FC, who lives at Hollow Meadows.

He said: “A trip out to the once beautiful countryside surrounding Sheffield will be spoilt by the sight of hundreds of black bin liners full of domestic waste. Often rubbish is strewn around thanks to the attention of birds and sometimes rats.

“Ultimately, while council staff may not be responsible for the problem, it is up to them to offer a solution.

“Sheffield Council should have priorities and waste disposal should be top of that priority list. They should maintain these priorities at all costs so forget printing leaflets in 11 languages and concentrate on waste collection and disposal.”

But the council said it believes most households have coped with the change - and fly-tipping incidents have not increased.

MIX-UP IN CHANGE TO COLLECTIONS

A DISABLED pensioner was left without help to take her recycling bins to the kerb after a mix-up.

The council’s main waste contractor Veolia has apologised to 71-year-old cancer sufferer Patricia Martin after binmen missed her off the list of households which need assisted collections.

Her address was mistakenly dropped from the list following the introduction of new kerbside arrangements five weeks ago.

Patricia, of Meadowhead, is too ill to take her wheelie bins and recycling boxes to the kerb.

She said: “Since mid-August, the binmen have taken the black bins to the kerb and back but left them when it has been recycling week.

“I have a lot of items delivered because my condition makes it difficult to go out, so there is a lot of packaging piling up.”

A Veolia spokeswoman said: “As soon as we were advised of the situation our operations manager arranged for an assisted recycling collection to be made, and assisted collections will continue to take place in the future.

“We would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused to the Mrs Martin.”