Striking recycling staff reject firm’s latest offer

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RECYCLING centre workers are on course for a further two weekends of strike action at sites in Sheffield after a new pay deal was rejected.

Staff at Sheffield Council’s five household waste recycling centres, operated by contractor Sova, staged another two-day walkout yesterday and Saturday as part of a dispute that has seen regular strikes through the summer.

The GMB union, representing staff, has given notice of weekend strikes through the whole of September.

It has been claimed the latest offer involved workers being paid equivalent to 31.8 hours per week throughout the year, when council budget cuts mean their hours are reduced to 22 hours in the winter months.

In summer, staff are still working a 37 hour, full-time week.

A Sheffield Council source said the offer was higher than the 29.8-hour weekly average pay initially proposed and that, with bonuses, staff would receive £8.14 per hour.

A council source said: “We feel it was a reasonable offer but the workers have again rejected it.

“With the bonuses, levels of pay would be much higher than the £6.08 minimum wage that staff have been receiving, making the pay for a 31.8 hour average week similar to a full time job on minimum wage.”

But GMB regional organiser Peter Davies said: “The workers want pay as they earn and not to have an average wage.

“Questions have also been unanswered about why Sova appointed an extra manager when they took over the service as opening hours have been cut to reduce costs.

“Reinstating the old opening hours over winter so all sites are open seven days a week would have cost £90,000.

“No consideration has been made of our alternative ideas to find the money, such as charging people a token £1 fee per visit.

“I would also like to know why Sheffield feels its only option is to reduce opening hours and days when neighbouring councils including Tory-controlled Derbyshire are retaining seven-day opening at recycling centres despite the same spending cuts.”

The GMB believes a review should be held of income recouped from selling recyclables to ensure Sheffield is making the maximum.