Waste centre staff in Sheffield on full strike

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TIP workers across Sheffield have walked out on an indefinite strike in a row with bosses over job losses and reduced working hours.

Members of the GMB union, who work at household recycling centres across Sheffield, said today they will not go back to work until bosses agree to talks. The dispute means three of the city’s five tips are closed, and residents with rubbish to hand over are having to sit in lengthy queues at others - or drive with their waste to sites further from their homes.

Scrap metal dealers have been waiting outside dump-it sites to take items from frustrated residents. But there are fears illegal fly-tipping will increase if people cannot dump their rubbish legitimately.

The workers say they will not go back to work until an agreement is reached over plans to cut working hours.

The strikers are employees of SOVA Recycling, which runs household waste recycling centres for Veolia and Sheffield Council.

They are resisting plans to close some of the sites to the public on week days, which would result in job losses.

The GMB claims Veolia wants to cut public opening hours by 35 per cent, but increase the number of hours the tips is open to commercial customers.

Pete Davies, a GMB union official, said: “We need a complete rethink on the closure of these sites.

“This is about whether you have a clean, green city or a filthy one. This is a core service.

“People want someone to collect their garbage and they want somewhere to take their unwanted waste.”

Mr Davies said scrap metal dealers were hanging around waiting to relieve customers of their unwanted goods - and some residents were dumping their waste at the gates when the tips were shut.

And he claimed fly-tipping has already increased.

Veolia’s website states household waste recycling centres at Beighton, Deepcar and High Green are closed until further notice.

However, the tip at Shirecliffe is open from 10am until 4pm Tuesdays to Thursdays and from 10am until 6pm from Fridays to Mondays.

The Gleadless site on Blackstock Road is open Fridays to Mondays from 10am until 6pm.

Stephen Bennett, operations director for Sova Recycling, said: “We are keen see an end to this dispute so we can get things back on track and see our staff back at work.

“We have made every effort to avoid job losses and over the last few months Sova Recycling continues to work hard, together with the council, Veolia and the GMB to reach a solution.”

Jack Scott, Sheffield Council’s cabinet member for environment and recycling, said: “It’s disappointing we’re in this position.

“We are keen to find any options we can discuss, and look at new ways of working, and also rebuild some trust which might have been lost.”