Sheffield recycling sites facing more strikes

Waste recycle Beighton Road
Waste recycle Beighton Road
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SIX more one-day strikes are to take place at Sheffield’s recycling centres over plans to cut opening hours and jobs.

Members of the GMB trade union employed at the household waste sites at Deepcar, Gleadless Valley, High Green, Shirecliffe and Woodhouse are walking out from Saturday to Monday, and again from Wednesday to Friday next week.

The strike follows three days of action last month.

The union is protesting about changes to the running of the sites, which will save the council just over £350,000.

Alterations will mean the loss of five jobs, and reduced opening hours from seven days per week.

Peter Davies, regional organiser for the GMB, claims enough money could be made through sales from the sites of recyclable materials to more than cover the cost of operating the centres.

The union wants the council to back down on its plans.

Mr Davies said the council has failed to provide a detailed breakdown of its records of income and expenditure at the sites - and added councillors have not met him to discuss the union’s concerns.

He said: “With no clarity or even a response about the income and expenditure estimates, the workers feel they have no choice but to pursue their cause through industrial action.”

Mr Davies added he was unhappy about the possibility of former offenders being given work at the sites by sub-contractor SOVA, when his members’ jobs are being cut.

But SOVA said it was ‘completely untrue’ that ex-offenders would be hired - and promised the employees losing their jobs will be contacted if the company is able to create new jobs in the future.

Stephen Bennett, operations director for SOVA, said: “As a social enterprise it has not been easy for us to make these tough decisions and we have made every effort to avoid job losses.

“Over the last few months SOVA Recycling has been working hard, together with the council, Veolia and the GMB, to reach a solution that minimises the impact on jobs and services. We’ve ploughed all the income we have received through the resale of recycled goods straight back into the business, and that has helped us to save some jobs.”

Coun Jack Scott, cabinet member for environment, said: “The GMB’s figures are not credible for how much could be made from sale of recyclables. We share the profits, so clearly it is in the council’s interests to ensure income is at an optimum level.

“Negotiations have been ongoing for the last six months and the changes reduce the number of job losses from the nine originally proposed. Veolia, SOVA Recycling and the council will continue to talk to the GMB at any time.”