Binmen may strike over shift changes

30/07/09, TSPL, Scotsman, News, Rubbish dispute, Edinburgh. Bin men uplifting in the Broughton area of Edinburgh today. Pic Ian Rutherford

30/07/09, TSPL, Scotsman, News, Rubbish dispute, Edinburgh. Bin men uplifting in the Broughton area of Edinburgh today. Pic Ian Rutherford

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TALKS are still under way aimed at averting a strike by Fife’s binmen after the council proposed a new working pattern branded as ‘daft’ by union leaders.

Members of Unite, who account for some 40 per cent of the council’s refuse collection workforce, have already voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action should the new shift system be introduced.

If a solution can’t be found, they’ll take part in a formal strike ballot that could result in major disruption for householders.

The dispute centres on plans to introduce a two-shift system of day shift and backshift working, which would see bins being emptied at night.

Unite’s regional organiser Richard Whyte described the proposal as ‘ridiculous’.

“Our members are crystal clear that working a two-shift system of day shift and backshift is a daft idea,” he said.

“Who wants bin lorries running about their streets at eight o’clock at night? And who wants to work a backshift lifting bins when the work is best done during the day?

“This would greatly compromise the quality of life and work/life balance for our members as well as upset communities.”

However, Dr Bob McLellan, head of transportation and environmental services, said that the proposed bin collection shift changes had been the subject of an ongoing consultation for more than a year.

“Members of the general public should be aware that the proposals to introduce the twin shift refuse collection system will save around £700,000 per annum,” he said.

“The proposals as put forward by the council do not necessitate in any requirement for job losses.

“In addition, as part of the consultation on the possibility of introducing these proposals, more than 90 per cent of the Fife residents, who were asked, were happy with evening collections.”

Unite, Unison and GMB union chiefs met with council officials on Wednesday and are to consider their stance during the coming week.

Mr Whyte added: “We will have a clearer idea of our position once a new administration is formed as there are certain questions that can only be answered once this happens.”