Binmen call off proposed strike
Published 12 Oct 2012 11:45 1 Comment
BINMEN have called off strike action against Fife Council's new bin collection system.
Around 200 council refuse workers were balloted on Wednesday on industrial action over the controversial two-shift working arrangements.
From Monday, bins will be collected between 6am and 9pm, with binmen working day and back shifts.
The Unite union said 81 per cent accepted the new working pattern, but on the conditions the arrangements were kept under review and that negotiations with Fife Council over shift patterns would continue.
Unite regional manager Dougie Maguire said, "While our members continue to hold strong reservations about the viability of these new shift patterns we will tentatively move forward in order to fulfil the levels of service the people of Fife have come to expect.
"We recognise the budget constraints being placed on local authorities at this time - our members feel the squeeze too as do the general public - but we expect these changes will be subject to review and that the council will continue to work with our members to explore the best means of delivering refuse services across Fife.
"In the meantime we would ask for the public's patience while refuse collections are carried out, particularly those later in the day."
In August, the Press reported that trade union members have twice voted against the proposals but received letters saying the changes would be introduced regardless of their opposition.
The council says it is extending bin collection hours to make the most of expensive lorries and reduce the number of vehicles it owns to save £800,000 a year.
Council leader Alex Rowley said, "I am pleased that we are now able to move forward.
"Over the last few weeks I have met with the majority of refuse collection staff and I have taken the opportunity to personally thank them for the contribution they are making by moving to a two shift system to reduce the overall budget gap that we face in Fife Council.
"We recognise that refuse collectors make a huge contribution to public services, playing a part in everyone's life, and we have worked with them to get to this conclusion.
"The changes which start on Monday are about making our operations as efficient as possible, keeping people in jobs and maintaining a high level of service for Fifers.
"Households will receive the same number of bin collections as they do currently and businesses will continue to have their waste collected seven days a week. However, by making full use of our bin lorries we can cut down on the number of lorries we need, and save over £800,000 of public money while preserving jobs."
Councillor Dave Dempsey, chair of the environment, finance and corporate services scrutiny committee (EFCSSC) issued an invitation to Mr Maguire to take part in any future review of the upcoming changes to bin collection times in Fife.
Cllr Dempsey said, "We're empowered to look at areas of interests in a whole variety of ways, including 'select committee' style hearings where we can invite anyone we want to come along and give us insights into the issues.
"If, after a few months for the system to bed in, Mr Maguire's members are still uneasy, I'd be more than happy to add bin collection to our work programme and to invite him to come along and tell us what he knows."
This article appeared in Dunfermline Press 12 Oct 12
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Oct 14, 20:47