Brighton waste backlog 'follows union work to rule'

  • 22 May 2013
  • From the section Sussex
Overflowing rubbish bin in Brighton
Image caption Brighton council claimed crews were not collecting rubbish left next to bins under a work-to-rule policy

Continuing disruption to rubbish collections in Brighton after a strike by refuse collectors has been blamed by the council on staff working to rule.

Council leader Jason Kitkat said he could not guarantee when a backlog of uncollected waste would be cleared.

He claimed crews were not collecting rubbish left next to bins and boxes under a work-to-rule policy.

The GMB union said there was no work to rule and staff were doing normal work under health and safety procedures.

The union is balloting workers in the council's Cityclean department over industrial action, in a dispute over pay and allowances.

Some residents have said their rubbish has not been collected for a month.

Refuse collectors went on strike on the Wednesday and Thursday after the May Day bank holiday weekend.

'Huge cuts planned'

Image caption Refuse collectors went on strike for two days after the bank holiday

Councillor Kitkat said: "We are doing everything we can to catch up as fast as we can, but unfortunately we had a bank holiday and then we had two days of unofficial strike action, followed by work to rule that has been ongoing."

He said the council was consulting workers on a pay offer where the majority would receive increased pay, but 10% would lose an average of £1,000 a year for which they would receive £3,000 compensation.

Resident Mike Ward said he had not had a collection for three weeks and he had stacks of recycling that needed bundling up daily because of the risk of seagull and fox attacks.

He said the council had advised residents to put out rubbish regardless and await the next collection, but added: "There's every chance that if there's any overspill, the crew who does turn up won't collect it at all."

Charles Harrity, GMB senior organiser, said the GMB and other unions involved were willing to resolve the action but could not sanction some workers losing £4,000 per year in salary, and a resolution was needed on both sides.

Adding that the council had "provoked members", he said: "This whole idea of work to rule - I don't know where that is coming from. They are doing their job as per processes long-established."

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