Recycling workers plan all-out strike if talks fail

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TWO extra days of industrial action have been announced by Sheffield recycling centre workers followed by an all-out strike if talks fail to resolve a dispute over cuts to opening hours and jobs.

The GMB union, which represents staff at the five household waste recycling centres, operated by subcontractor Sova on behalf of Sheffield Council’s main waste contractor, Veolia, will walk out on Sunday and Monday.

Today is the last of a three-day walkout at the centres, in Deepcar, Gleadless Valley, High Green, Shirecliffe and Woodhouse.

The council and the contractors are to hold talks with the GMB during the coming week, but have refused a union request to resolve the dispute through arbitration service, Acas.

Five jobs are to go because opening days and hours have been reduced as part of council cutbacks, but the union claims sufficient proceeds can be made from sale of materials to cover the cost of reinstating seven-day opening.

Peter Davies, GMB regional organiser, said: “The recycling centres will be open as normal on Saturday, and from Tuesday to Friday. If there is no resolution from the talks, an all-out strike will begin next Saturday.”

But Mr Davies said the danger of a strike involving binmen due to an anticipated 42 redundancies from the move to fortnightly bin collections has lessened.

He said: “Veolia is now offering an enhanced redundancy package and 25 workers so far have volunteered for redundancy.”

The union says there will be a ballot for industrial action involving binmen if there are compulsory redundancies.

Meanwhile, opposition Liberal Democrats on Sheffield Council have criticised ruling Labour members for not spreading the cuts to recycling centre opening ‘fairly’.

The Gleadless Valley recycling centre, which serves the south and south-west of the city, will be closed three days-a-week under council proposals, to accept commercial waste.

However, the Shirecliffe site, deep in Labour territory, is the only centre to remain open seven days a week.

Coun Shaffaq Mohammed, Lib Dem leader, said there had been no assessment of which sites are used the most before making the decision to cut hours.

He said: “Recycling centres in Labour’s favoured areas aren’t seeing a reduction at all.

“I’ve asked Labour’s council leader to re-consider these plans, otherwise we could see fly-tipping and litter-dumping become a real problem across the city.”

But Coun Jack Scott, cabinet member for environment, said: “Information held by the council on the tonnage recycled at each of the sites was used to ensure residents are still able to dispose of their household waste seven days a week.

“The decision on the opening days for Gleadless Valley and Shirecliffe was based on a recommendation by Sova.”