Doncaster waste workers set to walk out on strike affecting bin collections

Some Doncaster residents are set to face disruption to their waste and recycling collections next week, as staff working for Suez walk out on strike in a dispute over pay and conditions.
Some Doncaster residents are set to face disruption to their waste and recycling collections next week, as staff working for Suez walk out on strike in a dispute over pay and conditions.

Some Doncaster residents are set to face disruption to their waste and recycling collections next week, as staff working for Suez walk out on strike in a dispute over pay and conditions.

Staff working for Doncaster Council's waste contractor Suez have voted to strike on Monday, affecting waste and recycling collections for many people across the borough.

Unite the Union say staff are striking over a ‘draconian’ management style and a ‘derisory’ pay offer which will leave workers 30 pence an hour worse off in real terms.

Doncaster Council have confirmed that if your collection day is Monday your waste or recycling collection will not take place on Monday.

A spokesman said: "Please leave your bins and/or recycling boxes out until collected, as we have been assured by Suez that they will be collected before your next collection day.

"If you do not want to leave your bin or box outside overnight, please make sure it is at the point of collection by 7.30am every day until collected.

"You don’t need to report your bin collection as ‘missed’.

"There will be no green bin (garden waste) collections this week. Please do not put out your green bin for collection

"You may see recycling being collected in normal bin lorries. Don’t worry, it is still being recycled – it just helps to speed up collections if Suez uses all available vehicles.

"If your collection day is Tuesday to Friday your waste and recycling collection should not be affected by the strike, so please put your bin or box out as normal.

"There will be no green bin (garden waste) collections this week. Please do not put out your green bin for collection.

"You may see recycling being collected in normal bin lorries. Don’t worry, it is still being recycled – it just helps to speed up collections if Suez uses all available vehicles."

Commenting on the industrial action, a spokesman for Doncaster Council said: "Staff members working for our waste contractors Suez have voted to strike on Monday December 12th following an industrial dispute.

"We are disappointed that staff members and Suez management have not been able to resolve their differences without the need for industrial action and apologise to residents for any inconvenience caused.

"We have been assured by Suez management that they are working hard to minimise the impact of the strike on residents."

Unite regional officer Shane Sweeting said: “We had hoped that we could have avoided a strike and the inevitable disruption it will bring through recent talks at the conciliation service Acas.

“Sadly management was not willing listen and instead seem hell bent on continuing with its bullying ‘draconian’ management style and denying people taking time off to go on holiday with their family.

“To add insult to injury bosses have sought to further frustrate workers with a pay offer which will result in some of our members losing 30 pence an hour in real terms because of cuts to their terms and conditions.

“The bullying mentality of management cannot be allowed to fester. We urge the company to get around the negotiating table to meaningfully negotiate a solution which meets our members’ concerns and restores dignity and respect to the workplace.”

A spokesman for SUEZ said: "We were incredibly disappointed to learn that Unite members in Doncaster voted to reject our generous pay offer, which would have awarded staff double the percentage pay increase that other vital public service providers, such as nurses and teachers, received in 2016.

"Unite members are now asking for triple this figure, alongside a host of concessions.

"Despite this, SUEZ’s senior management team is carefully considering the result of the ballot and the company will do all it can, within the confines of economic responsibility, to avoid the threatened strike action on Monday 12th.

"However, Unite made a number of unfounded allegations against SUEZ the day before yesterday (05/12/2016) which must be addressed."

"Unite claimed that employees at Doncaster have not been able to take holiday since August and this is simply untrue – in fact, SUEZ has actually granted members of staff additional leave during the school holiday periods as well as allowing normal levels during the rest of the year so that they can spend time with their families.

"Industrial action is currently proposed over the Christmas period and SUEZ has a responsibility to the residents of Doncaster to ensure that this vital public service is maintained over the Christmas holidays, which typically sees higher than average waste volumes and is a critical time in our service to the Council and local residents. However, we have allowed staff to accrue any and all untaken annual leave into the New Year so that they are at no disadvantage and we do not expect them to work on public holiday days, as many other public service providers will be required to do.

"Unite has also accused SUEZ of “bullying” and of dismissing employees unfairly on “trumped up” charges. The reality behind this accusation is that local Unite members, as one of their terms of negotiation, have asked SUEZ to reinstate a single employee who was dismissed following a serious violation of the company’s health and safety policy. This incident is still subject to an appeal hearing to take place next week and the company’s procedures need to be completed. The Health & Safety breach could have endangered members of the public and safety is SUEZ’s number one priority. It is for this reason that we are not prepared to reinstate the former employee as part of a pay negotiation. Any decision related to whether the employee is reinstated will be made as part of the normal appeal procedures that the company employs.

"Furthermore, Unite claims that the pay award will leave workers worse off but we feel that this analysis is simply erroneous. The majority of Doncaster employees will be better off as a result of the deal offered to them.

"There is no culture of bullying in SUEZ and we have listened carefully to local members’ requests and concerns – having proposed a deal which we think is in the interests of both parties. We have a responsibility to the residents of Doncaster to deliver a reliable public service at best value and it is firmly with this responsibility in mind that we have sought to negotiate constructively.

"Unite has also criticised SUEZ for the lack of meetings and dialogue to discuss the above and other points. Since April 2016, there have been twelve meetings between SUEZ, Unite and representatives. We remain committed and open to constructive dialogue on all matters concerning our staff.