FLY-TIPPING in Sheffield is set to rocket after opening times at a Sheffield recycling centre were slashed from seven days a week to just four, striking workers say.
Members of the GMB union on a picket line at the Blackstock Road centre in Gleadless on Saturday said closing for three days just as black bin collections go fortnightly will be a disaster for the environment.
On Saturday, long queues backed up on the service road and on to busy Blackstock Road as a three-strong skeleton staff of management battled to operate the site.
Six days of strike action has been called at all five of Sheffield’s household recycling centres - Deepcar, Blackstock Road, Shirecliffe, Woodhouse and High Green - after workers walked out over cuts to opening hours and five redundancies. They are operated by SOVA Recycling, a sub-contractor to Veolia, which has pledged to keep two sites open during the action.
John Comer, Beighton and Blackstock site foreman, who was with five colleagues on the picket line, said they were not turning anyone away - but some people had refused to enter and had driven off when informed of the reason for their protest.
He said: “It’s crazy. Recycling centres are needed more than ever because of changes to other services, yet they are cutting our hours, not just a little bit but massively.
“Veolia is making a fortune from recycling, it just doesn’t add up.”
James Armitage, Blackstock foreman, said: “Recycling is supposed to be a growth industry, they should be putting more into the system, not less. This is not just about us but about the impact it will have on the environment, we’re letting our children down.”
At the back of the queue, Mark Hemsley, of Darnall, waited to dump household rubbish.
He said: “If people can’t dump stuff when they want to then they will fly tip and it will cost Veolia more money in the long run to clean it up.”
Robert Lee, of Meadowhead, had a car full of cardboard.
He said: “It seems ridiculous, they’ve axed the green waste collection service and black bins are going fortnightly. These sites will be needed more than ever.”
Reduced hours at the five sites started last week, while Sheffield Council announced on Friday that household bin collections will change from weekly to fortnightly as early as next month.
The GMB will stage a demonstration outside Sheffield town hall on Wednesday during a full council meeting.
Coun Jack Scott of Sheffield Council said concessions had been made and the number of redundancies had reduced from the nine initially proposed.
The GMB has threatened to ballot 200 binmen for industrial action if the move to fortnightly rubbish collections in July leads to redundancies.