Unite warned today (July 26) that Doncaster residents face the prospect of dirty streets, increased litter and fly tipping, after refuse contractor Suez announced huge cuts of seismic proportion to its workforce.
The company which employs 250 workers has announced that it is to make 112 staff – nearly half – redundant by October as well as removing 20 long-term agency workers.
Unite is now preparing to ballot for industrial action in opposition to the planned cut in staffing. Tensions have already increased as the company failed to consult with the union before announcing the redundancies and has refused to offer any form of enhanced redundancy or potential redeployment for affected workers. Suez has also refused to guarantee that employees will be protected ahead of agency workers.
As a result of the job cuts the company is proposing to reduce refuse collections from a five day a week programme to a four day a week operation. It will no longer offer a service to remove medical waste, which will become an individual’s responsibility to dispose of safely.
Suez is also planning to reduce green waste collections from a 12 month a year service to a nine month a year service and the company will no longer undertake the licensed removal of asbestos.
The company, which has recently been awarded an eight year extension to its refuse collection, blames the cuts on pressure from Doncaster metropolitan borough council, to have tabled a very low bid on the contract.
“If these redundancies take place then residents need to brace themselves for dirty streets,” commented Unite regional officer Shane Sweeting.
“The company is barely able to meet its targets with a five day a week service, there is no way it can keep the streets clean on a four day operation with half the staff.”
Sweeting further explained that, “Suez failed to consult with Unite prior to announcing these redundancies and has shown no inclination to minimise their huge effect on a workforce which has been dedicated in keeping Doncaster clean and tidy. As a consequence Unite is preparing to ballot for industrial action.
“If Doncaster council is serious about improving the local environment and seeking city status it needs to step in and resolve this issue. The council cannot sit on its hands and allow the borough to go to rack and ruin.”
Unite is currently balloting the workforce for strike action over pay. The company had made a pay offer of 2 per cent. However in reality most workers would see no increase in take home pay as the increase was conditional on the removal of guaranteed overtime for a series of tasks including vehicle inspections. The bay ballot closes on Monday July 31.