Striking bin collectors 'backed into a corner' over pay

Bin collection. File picture.
Bin collection. File picture.
Have your say

Sheffield bin collectors will go on strike next week after reaching an impasse with their employer over pay.

Members of the GMB union have voted in favour of industrial action, so will go on strike for 24 hours on Wednesday.

The dispute with employer Veolia, which collects rubbish on behalf of Sheffield Council, is predominantly to do with how much staff are paid.

Union representative and work convenor for Veolia Michael Hinchliffe said talks had begun in January but had stalled about eight weeks ago.

“We were prepared to move but they weren’t,” he said.

“We balloted members and it came back on Friday last week in favour of taking some action. We had a mass meeting of the workforce on Monday and they gave us an indication that they would like to go on strike.”

Mr Hinchliffe said the dispute was over how much of a pay rise his colleagues should get. GMB representatives had initially pushed for five per cent, while Veolia had offered one per cent and had then gone up to one-and-a-half per cent per year for the next two years.

“On their figures, we are tuppence an hour away,” he said. “We can get their with a bit of co-operation and talking.”

Mr Hinchliffe said there would be a continuous overtime ban until the dispute was solved, and the strike was currently only a one-off.

“Hopefully they will come and talk to us, but if they don’t I see it being one of many.”

Mr Hinchliffe said he and his colleagues were sorry for any disruption the action would cause.

“Generally residents are usually with us,” he said. “We don’t only empty bins. In reality we are sort of a community service.

“Sometimes with the assisted collections, the binman is the only person older people will see that week. We keep an eye on people and have conversations with them.

“I’m sorry if inconvenience is going to be caused. The guys don’t want to strike. But we feel as though we are being forced into a corner.”

Sheffield Council's cabinet member for environment Bryan Lodge said: “We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause and we are working closely with Veolia so that this dispute can be brought to a satisfactory conclusion as quickly as possible.

“If the strike does go ahead there will be disruption to the service but we ask residents to still place their bins and boxes out for collection as normal as extra collection crews will be working to empty those missed due to the strike action.”

General manager at Veolia in Sheffield Debbie Doohan added: “We have worked hard to try and resolve this dispute having had numerous meetings with the GMB and have involved (employment dispute resolution agency) Acas.

"We apologise for any inconvenience this strike may cause to residents and will do our best to get the services back to normal as soon as possible.

"We are disappointed that this action is to take place, as we believe our offer of three per cent over a two year period is fair, especially in the current economic climate with low inflation.

“We have given significant pay increases in recent years, when inflation was higher, and were looking to offer some security of pay levels by offering a two-year deal.”

For updates on collections visit

Today's top stories:

UPDATE: Roads reopened following city centre bomb scare

Shoppers' loyalties divided by big plans for Sheffield city centre and Meadowhall

Photograph released of men wanted over attack in Sheffield nightclub

'Perfect' Sheffield graduate to appear on The Apprentice

Sheffield Wednesday: Blackburn boss Owen Coyle angered by offside decision after defeat against Owls

Match Highlights: Sheffield United 1 Bristol Rovers 0 - Chapman heads Blades over the line