Binmen vote to strike

Binmen vote to strike

RESIDENTS could be in for a ‘summer of discontent’ after bin workers voted to strike.

Council staff who work emptying waste and recycling this week voted unanimously to walk out amidst allegations of bullying, harassment and the inability to take time off.

And workers could end up striking for longer than an initial seven-day walkout, according to Union boss Paul Holmes.

Turnout on the ballot was 86.1 per cent, with 85.5 per cent of those voting in favour of strike action.

No date has been set for the week-long strike, but Kirklees Unison branch secretary Mr Holmes says workers are “in it for the long haul”.

He said: “I know it will last a lot longer than (seven days) unless there’s some proper negotiations that take place. There’s nowhere else to go. The council brought new rounds in three years ago and they just got worse and the rounds aren’t do-able.

“The middle management treat the workers like muck and all the council are bothered about is if the bins get emptied.”

Mr Holmes said one worker was denied holiday, special leave and unpaid leave to visit his daughter in A&E at hospital.

It is claimed staff have accumulated 23 years of holiday time that has not been taken.

Unison also gave examples of workers being offered overtime on a Friday, indicating work cannot be done in time, while 17 grievances were reported to the council in September but have still not been resolved.

There is expected to be major disruption to bin collections, with grey and green bins not being emptied by Kirklees Unison members.

Mr Holmes said: “I don’t think the council realise how solid the strike will be. An 86.1 per cent turnout – you don’t get numbers like that without feeling.

“There’s quite a good relationship between bin workers and the public and they want that to continue but they can’t carry on like this.”

Council director Karl Battersby said: “It is disappointing that Unison has balloted its members at this stage, and while they have indicated there will be some period of strike action, they have not yet confirmed when this action will take place.

“I can assure the public, the unions and their members that we do not tolerate bullying or harassment and take allegations of this nature very seriously. 

“Any allegations are dealt with through the relevant council procedures.

“We are aware of the concerns raised by some of our employees and as a result we have commissioned a review of the cleansing service to make sure we can continue to deliver the best services for our residents and the best conditions for our workers.

“We are continuing to work closely with union representatives to make sure that all concerns are addressed as part of this review, which is why we are disappointed that Unison have taken a ballot at this stage. 

“I am still hopeful that we will resolve their concerns and avoid industrial action and disruption for our residents. The other unions involved have not balloted.

“Obviously, until a formal notification is received from Unison our services will continue as normal and residents should continue to place their bins out for collection on the usual days.”

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