Sheffield waste recycling strike could be 'long and bitter'

Picket line outside recycling site The strikes are in protest at planned changes to the opening times at recycling centres

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A strike over a reduction in opening hours at household waste recycling centres in Sheffield could be "long and bitter", a trade union has said.

Workers at the five centres began industrial action in May but have now walked out indefinitely.

A spokesman for the GMB union said workers had "nothing to lose" by being on strike because reduced hours meant less pay.

Sheffield Council said it was working to resolve the situation.

The workers are employed by SOVA Recycling who run the centres on behalf of the Labour-run council and waste management company Veolia.

'Low wages'

As part of the council's savings plan, sites at Shirecliffe, Woodhouse, Gleadless, Deepcar and High Green would only be open to the public on weekends.

According to the council the change would save £500,000.

Peter Davies, GMB organiser in Sheffield, said the plans meant fewer hours and fewer jobs for workers.

Mr Davies added: "Workers have been pushed that far they feel they have nothing left to lose because the wages and the hours are now so low. We could be faced with a very long and bitter strike here."

A joint statement from the council, SOVA and Veolia says the changes to opening hours are the result of government funding cuts and that all parties are working hard to resolve the dispute.

Jack Scott, the cabinet member for environment, waste and street scene, said: "If there was an easy solution we would have taken it by now. We are in this because of the massive cuts we have to make."

He added the council was continuing to talk with GMB and said he hoped a solution could still be found.

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