Bid to find solution to Sheffield recycling strike

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Council leaders and contractors say they are working to find an ‘amicable solution’ to end industrial action at Sheffield recycling sites.

Workers walked out on two extra days this week and an all-out strike is threatened if talks fail to resolve a dispute over cuts to opening hours and jobs.

Staff at subcontractor Sova operate five household waste recycling centres on behalf of Sheffield Council’s main waste contractor Veolia.

The council and both contractors said there were plans for at least one centre to remain open if the strike continued and disruption would be kept to a minimum.

But they also hoped the dispute could be resolved as soon as possible.

Coun Jack Scott, council cabinet member for environment, waste and streetscene, said: “I would like to thank everyone for their patience during this dispute, which is a result of massive Government cuts we’re facing in Sheffield.

“Clearly if there was an alternative to making these changes we would have already taken it.

“But the reality is that the changes to opening times at the centres are the consequence of these funding cuts.

“We recognise the impact these changes will have on the workforce, but because of the cuts we are facing we can not avoid making this saving.”

SOVA’s operations director Stephen Bennett said all was being done so people could continue to dispose of household waste safely.

He added: “We are keen to see an end to this dispute so we can get services to the public back on track and see our staff back at work.”

The centres are at Deepcar, Gleadless Valley, High Green, Shirecliffe and Woodhouse.

Five jobs are to go because opening days and hours have been reduced as part of council cutbacks.

GMB union leaders claim sufficient proceeds can be made from sale of materials to cover the cost of reinstating seven-day opening.

The council and the contractors are to hold talks with the GMB this week but a request by the union to resolve the dispute through arbitration service Acas has been refused.