Strike back on at Sheffield ‘dump it’ sites

Queues at Blackstock Road tip,Gleadless
Queues at Blackstock Road tip,Gleadless
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STRIKE action is being planned at Sheffield’s household recycling centres, where workers are angry about reduced opening hours.

The GMB union has prepared a letter telling bosses members are planning industrial action from next weekend, after talks failed to resolve a series of outstanding issues.

Staff at the city’s ‘dump-it’ sites previously walked out for 28 days as they faced proposed job losses and 20 per cent cuts to working hours.

But the action was suspended last month when a deal was brokered, lifting the threat of redundancies and promising employees a new bonus deal of up to £2 extra an hour, as well as a nine per cent reduction to working hours.

The GMB agreed the new terms and conditions with Sova Recycling, Sheffield Council and the council’s main waste contractor Veolia, which run the centres in Deepcar, Gleadless Valley, High Green, Shirecliffe and Woodhouse.

But the union now hopes to issue a letter this Friday, giving notification of the intention to resume strikes from September 1.

Convenor John Stephenson said the strike was only suspended, not dropped completely, when staff returned to work in July.

“We put it on hold because we were very optimistic we would get a resolution, but we haven’t got a resolution,” he said.
“It was about continuing talks and trying to sort it out, but my understanding is it was not successful.”

Mr Stephenson said the new strikes could last longer than just one weekend.

“I’m hearing comments that have led me to believe that it could be longer than a week,” he added.

“It’s going to be an ongoing thing. This could be every weekend, or even during the week. It could be a longer strike.

“It’s to do with the same reasons and the way things are being done. It’s about the reduction in opening hours, and the number of days they are going to be opened.”

A spokeswoman for Veolia said: “At this moment in time we are not aware of any impending industrial action at our household waste recycling centres, and all five sites remain open to the public for recycling.

“Should, however, this situation change we would always advise our customers as soon as possible.”

A spokeswoman for Sova added: “The GMB suspended industrial action at Sheffield’s Household Waste Recycling Centres until September 1. To date we have not received notification of any further industrial action.

“We are keen to ensure there is no more disruption to services and we will make every effort to work with the union and our employees to avoid any further strike action.”

Contingency plans are in place to ensure that at least one tip is kept open at any one time in the event of a strike, so residents can still dispose of waste.

The offer made by Sova, the council and Veolia last month also included reviewing training and support to staff, and improving facilities.

GMB strike co-ordinator Peter Davies previously stressed that strike action had only been suspended because the union had to be sure the conditions agreed upon would materialise.

Opening hours at the recycling centres were cut by three days a week because of council spending cuts. The Blackstock Road tip has been particularly badly affected by the change, with lengthy queues of up to 100 cars building up outside as people wait to offload their rubbish.

The threat of new strikes comes after the introduction of fortnightly bin collections in Sheffield was hit with problems. Thousands of households missed out on having their bins emptied because they didn’t receive calendars listing the dates for the new arrangements.

Visit www.veolia.co.uk/sheffield or call 0114 273 4567 for details of recycling sites’ opening days and hours.