Sheffield waste centre strikes are off

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STRIKE action over changes to pay and conditions at Sheffield’s household waste recycling centres has been suspended.

The long-running dispute started in reaction to Sheffield Council’s ruling Labour Group cutting the budget for the five sites, leading to a reduction in opening days and hours.

There have been a spate of walkouts over the summer and workers have been striking every Saturday and Sunday this month.

More strikes were due for the next two weekends.

However, the action has been suspended after talks.

The GMB union, representing staff at the centres in Deepcar, Gleadless Valley, High Green, Shirecliffe and Woodhouse, said it had reacted in response to plans by contractor Sova, which operates the sites, to ‘take a fresh look at how best to address the issues raised by the union’.

The union wants to know why Sova has increased management costs by taking on an extra person to help run the sites, and has put forward alternative plans to charge users £1 per visit to help cover costs.

The GMB also believes more money could be made from sale of recyclables.

Sova’s recycling operations director, Stephen Bennett, said: “We’ve been working really hard to seek solutions to the dispute at the sites. We’ve involved the council, Veolia and a representative in ACAS in our recent negotiations and I believe we’ve made much progress.

“We know that a major concern for the union is the changes in the hours and we are going to take the next week to explore how we can address this.

We are committed to resolving this dispute and will be looking at the possibility of securing new business which will allow us to increase the number of hours we can offer our staff.

Sova Recycling said it would be ‘working closely’ with the GMB to explore suitable new business opportunities.

Peter Davies, GMB Organiser, said: “We need to work together and secure new business so that we can provide better opportunities to staff and continue to provide this essential service to the general public.”

All the sites will be open as normal this coming weekend.