Waste redundancies dispute revived

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THE threat of strike action at Sheffield’s household waste recycling centres has returned - as Sheffield Council presses ahead with savings of more than £600,000 from the sites’ running costs.

Workers had voted for an indefinite strike which was due to start after Christmas over the plans to slash opening hours at the five sites.

Industrial action was suspended after the council agreed to look again at its proposals - but no changes have been made.

Peter Davies is regional organiser for the GMB union, which represents the 42 staff whose employment has been transferred to a subcontractor of Veolia, SOVA.

He said: “Industrial action has never been called off - all we did was agree to hold off during an extension to the consultation period.

“We know the new employers have to make savings but our suggestions - such as making a small charge to people for using the centres - have not been proceeded with.”

He added: “Some workers have now left voluntarily and SOVA has already implemented a pay cut for JCB drivers at the sites, but up to 16 jobs are still at risk.”

The GMB believes more money could be recouped to cover the cost of the recycling centres through the council keeping income from sale of recyclables collected at the five sites. The money is currently retained by the operating contractor.

Meanwhile, Mr Davies said consultation is now beginning on redundancies among binmen working for Veolia, due to the halving in frequency of black bin collections to fortnightly.

He said: “The council is still looking at taking 10 of the trucks out of service and we believe up to 40 jobs could be lost. In practice, however, by the time they have worked out arrangements for people who might not be able to cope with fortnightly collections, such as flats and larger households, I think there will be fewer jobs and only six trucks lost.”

Mr Davies said his union had been ‘properly consulted’ by Sheffield Council’s Labour administration during the budget process.

“I think they had an impossible task to protect services whilst making such major savings. We were able to speak to everyone who had influence on the decisions made.”