Unite yesterday (September 27) confirmed that it will ballot refuse workers for strike action, which will affect bin collections later this year and over the Christmas period, in a dispute over job cuts.
Suez the private contractor which operates the refuse collection contract on behalf of Doncaster Council is set to slash the number of workers on the contract making 106 redundancies out of a total workforce of 258 workers.
“Unite entered negotiations with the clear intention of resolving this dispute but Suez has been unable or unwilling to promise there will be no compulsory redundancies,” said Unite official Shane Sweeting,
“Therefore Unite has no option we have to defend our members’ jobs and that is why we are balloting our members for strike action,” he added.
The job cuts will come into effect before the company’s new refuse contract agreed by Doncaster council, comes into effect in March 2018.
Strikes on the refuse contract were called off in August after Suez made an improved pay offer to the workforce and agreed to talks at the conciliation service Acas, over the proposed redundancies.
“While strike action will inevitably cause largescale disruption to the refuse collection service in Doncaster, I hope that the public understands that we are taking this action as a last resort and Unite is defending the long-term integrity of the service,” said Sweeting.
Unite entered the Acas talks with a red line that the union would not agree to any compulsory redundancies of the permanent refuse staff. Suez has refused to meet this condition. The proposed job losses currently include 50 permanent workers being made compulsorily redundant.
The cuts in the number of workers on the contract are so great that Unite cannot see how a normal refuse service, which keeps Doncaster clean and tidy, can be delivered.
“If Suez and Doncaster council want to avoid this dispute from taking place then they must remove the threat of compulsory redundancies,” said Sweeting.