Breckland binmen could strike over cuts

PUBLISHED: 08:00 01 June 2006 | UPDATED: 10:56 22 October 2010

Dustmen are threatening to bring rubbish collections across Breckland to a standstill in a dispute over job cuts.

Dustmen are threatening to bring rubbish collections across Breckland to a standstill in a dispute over job cuts.

Workers from the GMB union have locked horns with the private company Serco, which collects rubbish for Breckland Council, over its decision to axe the dedicated rubbish collection service from Dereham.

The company says the town's rubbish will in future be picked up by the 11 other teams covering Breckland and will result in minimal disruption to householders, with no change to collection days.

But union bosses claim that staff are already over-stretched and will be unable to operate safely and effectively if the cuts go ahead. They are also angry the four workers from the Dereham area are to lose their jobs.

GMB organiser Glenn Holdom said that the union would ballot its 60 local members over strike action if Serco carries out its decision to phase in the cutbacks from Monday June 5.

“We have been left with no alternative, we want to see common sense prevail but the line being expressed is that we are not prepared to negotiate,” he said.

“The idea that the Breckland's refuse service can cope with job cuts when it is already short of staff is errant nonsense. It will mean more accidents and a less reliable service.

“The Dereham town centre round is one of the largest in the district and I urge the residents to contact Serco and demand that their refuse service remains in place and is fully staffed.”

Any strike action would likely take place within four to six weeks, although Mr Holdom said it might only be a “work to rule” strike, where employees refuse to work overtime.

A spokesman for Serco said that it was removing an extra rubbish collection round which it had added when it first took over the contract for rubbish collection in Breckland.

“We are working very hard to make sure it won't cause any disruption to the community,” he said.

“We are going to be splitting Dereham between other rounds and there won't be any change to the collection days but maybe slight changes to the times.

“The extra round was introduced to make sure we were proud of the standard of service but since then we have introduced new vehicles which hold more material and allow us to cut it back.”

He said they had met twice with the GMB and were working closely to avoid strike action and that the company prided itself on providing generous redundancy packages to its workers.

Town and Breckland councillor Michael Fanthorpe said he would call on Breckland Council to demand the town keeps its dedicated service.

He said: “It is nothing but corporate greed. I have watched the refuse collectors in operation in the town and they are already literally running from house to house.

“To tag the collection service from a huge place like Dereham onto other area is unacceptable.”

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