Bin workers fight cuts with unofficial work to rule

Rubbish piles up in Breckland

Refuse collectors in Breckland began taking on-the-job action on Monday in a dispute over job cuts.

The Watton and Swaffham Times reported that rubbish is mounting up outside homes in Breckland because binmen are locked in an industrial dispute.

Waste went uncollected at a number of properties on Monday and there are fears the bin backlog could spread to other homes in the district after its rubbish collection teams began a “work to rule”.

Workers are refusing to rush from house to house, and finishing when their shift ends - whether they have completed their rounds or not.

Regional organiser for the GMB union Glenn Holdom said it was not union-sanctioned action but morale was at “rock bottom” because of job cuts last year and the threat of more lay-offs by refuse contractor Serco.

He said that Serco refused to take part in annual meetings with the union and that staff resent the pressure they have been put under since Serco laid off a collection crew in Dereham in June last year.

It is the third time over the last year that the team of about 50 rubbish collectors who serve Breckland's five market towns and surrounding villages have clashed with Serco over industrial issues.

Mr Holdom said: “They are refusing to rush round, taking their breaks that they would not normally take and finishing at the right time.

“The employer is thinking of taking another rubbish collection round out, which would mean the laying off of at least one crew, which is a driver and two other members of staff.

“Morale is at rock bottom and the company is not prepared to talk with us. This action is being done without GMB authority but I assume these problems are what lay behind it.”

Staff are also understood to be unhappy about their pay and holidays.

Communications manager at Serco Adam Fergie confirmed that a number of homes had not had their rubbish picked up Monday but said that Serco was working to resume normal service as quickly as it could.

“There has been a certain amount of disruption to services by this unofficial action and a number of collections have not happened,” he said.

“These will be dealt with as a matter of priority and we will be coming up with a plan to have service back on track as soon as possible.”

He said the company entered into negotiations with staff and union representatives on a variety of issues.

A spokesman for Breckland Council said that it was unaware of any problems between its refuse contractor Serco and its workers.

A strike was narrowly avoided among Breckland bin collectors at Christmas last year following staff dissatisfaction over the disciplining of a worker and the withdrawal of overtime pay.

Meanwhile, a ballot for strike action among Unison members at Breckland Council is due to close on June 4. The action could start on June 11 and revolves around a pay claim for the council's 300 staff.

Posted By

Steven.
May 23 2007 14:04

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