Rubbish: Sheffield bin men refuse to collect extra sacks and Olympics train strikes threat

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RESIDENTS in Sheffield face double misery as binmen voted not to collect extra rubbish bags generated by the switch to fornightly waste collections while train drivers called two days of industrial action between the Steel City and London during the Olympics.

Sheffield Council wanted to allow households to be able to put out up to two extra bags of rubbish with their black wheelie bins for the first month of fortnightly bin collections to help households get used to the change.

But the plan is heading for the scrapheap after refuse collectors voted against collecting the bags, despite being offered hundreds of pounds in extra wages each.

And, rail drivers’ union ASLEF has announced three days of strike action at East Midlands Trains - which could force the cancellation of dozens of Sheffield to London services from August 6 to 8.

The industrial action has been called as part of a long-running dispute over pensions.

Workers’ action could derail plans

* STRIKING train drivers are set to derail sports fans’ plans for travelling to the Olympics at the same time as Sheffield binmen have rejected a plan to help households get used to fortnightly collections.

Binmen were each offered £600 to pick up additional bags when emptying black wheelie bins for four weeks from August 13, when the new collections come in - but voted against the idea on the grounds of health and safety and excess workload.

Meanwhile, the pensions dispute at East Midlands Trains which led to a series of strikes in late spring has been reignited - with drivers announcing a three-day walkout from Monday to Wednesday, August 6 to 8, during the middle of the Olympic Games in London.

Sheffield Council’s plans to allow households to put out two bags of rubbish as well their wheelie bin for the first month to ease the pain of the switch to fortnightly collections were revealed in The Star by Coun Jack Scott, cabinet member responsible for waste, earlier this week.

But the plans are set to be binned after a massive majority of refuse collectors voted against the idea.

One bin wagon driver said: “The council announced we would collect the begs without even consulting with us.

“There was an overwhelming ‘no’ vote, I’d say more than 95 per cent voted against it. These new fortnightly collections are going to be killers anyway.

“Every bin will be full to the brim, meaning extra work for us.

“The workload is already phenomenal and this will break our backs and put extra wear and tear on wagons.

“It would be nice to get the £600, but it’s not worth killing yourself for.”

Peter Davies, of trade union GMB, said the plan would generate an expectation from residents that the two-bag rule would continue beyond the month that is proposed.

Coun Scott declined to comment.

But Derek Smith, cchairman of Arbourthorne Tenants’ and Residents’ Association, said: “Although I feel sorry for families and wonder how some will cope, I think it is just as well the extra bags are not being picked up, because they would have been ripped to shreds by foxes, causing a mess.”

Meanwhile, rail drivers’ union ASLEF has been criticised by East Midlands Trains for ‘playing games’ by announcing the strikes - when its pensions proposals had been accepted by the three other trade unions representing staff.

David Horne, managing director at the firm, said: “This is yet another example of ASLEF playing games.

“The fact is there was only one point of clarification still under discussion with the union on the pension proposal we put forward back in June. We were in talks with ASLEF to deal with this issue when we heard the news further strike action dates had been announced.

“We’re particularly surprised that ASLEF has announced further strike dates, rather than putting the offer that was accepted in principle back in June to their members for consideration.

“We’re certain the public will be shocked and angry to hear that the union has announced strike action during a time of great national pride for our country. We hope ASLEF can see sense and call off this unnecessary action.”

EMT wants to reduce its own pensions contributions and those of drivers after an inspector said more was being paid into the company fund than necessary - but drivers fear there could be future problems if contributions are cut.

Mick Whelan, ASLEF general secretary, said: “It is simply storing up trouble for the future of the scheme.

“The current owners of the East Midlands Trains franchise may have no responsibility over the pension fund in a few years if another company takes over, whereas our members face the prospect of either cripplingly high contribution rates or reduced benefits.”

What do you think about the binmen refusal and train strike?

Email: letters@thestar.co.uk

Here’s what some readers have had to say:

Faye First, 22, from Broomhill, said: “It will definitely cause a lot of problems. Trains are going to be bad during the Olympics anyway.”

Jo Powell, 21 from Crookesmoor: “Everyone has the right to protest. It will be inconvenient but I suppose that’s the point.”

Katherine Dawson, 22 from Broomhill: “It will make the country look bad at a time when everyone is looking at us.”

Tasha Hawker, 20, from Nether Edge: “The point of a strike is to disrupt things and there would be no point striking on day people didn’t really need the trains.”

Andy Welsh, 37 from city centre: “They’re the ones who are collecting the bins so if they think the workload is too much then that’s fair enough.”

Kim Stacey, 53, from Hillsborough: “I never fill my bin up so I think fortnightly collections are fair enough, but I can see how a large family would struggle.”

Stuart Hill, 78, from Walkley: “It will all work itself out in the end because if people leave excess waste on the pavement then people will be sent to pick it up.”

Kate Crossland, 65, from Birley Carr: “I don’t see why they should get extra money, but I think people need to start recycling more.”