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Council prepares for 'disappointing' strike action

 29 March 2016  |  

Household bin collections in South Ayrshire are set to be affected over the next three weeks by two-hour and four-hour strike stoppages planned by Unite the Union. 

The stoppages follow the introduction by the union of a continuous ban on overtime and 'work to rule' from Monday 14 March and a one hour strike stoppage on Thursday 17 March.

Unite has now advised South Ayrshire Council of additional periods of strike action:

  • 2 hour stoppage 10am-12noon on Thursday 31 March
  • 2 hour stoppage between 10am-12 noon on Thursday 7 April
  • 4 hour stoppage between 12noon-4pm on Monday 11 April (first operational day for the new 'double shifting' operations)
  • 4 hour stoppage between 12noon-4pm on Thursday 14 April.

The ban on overtime and 'work to rule' will continue, which has resulted in side waste, heavy bins or bins with the lid up not being lifted by crews – which is consistent with standard operating procedure.

The industrial action is in response to South Ayrshire Council's move to 'double shifting' of household waste collections.

This will introduce a new way of working from Monday 11 April, with waste collection vehicles operating from 6:00am-9:45pm (Monday to Friday), with bins collected from morning until night, rather than finishing early afternoon. There will be no changes to household waste collection days.

The change was approved by Councillors last May and provides a necessary financial saving, while achieving minimal disruption to householders and no requirement for weekend working for current Monday - Friday staff.

Crucially, it also protects jobs and means no redundancies are required to deliver the savings.

Mike Newall, South Ayrshire Council's Head of Neighbourhood Services, said: "We're stunned and surprised by news of this latest strike action. Nearly 99 per cent of our waste management employees – 135 out of 137 staff – have signed up to the new terms and conditions and shift patterns that start on 11 April. So, it's really disappointing that Unite has responded in this way and it's not at all clear what they hope it will achieve, with staff who participate losing the equivalent of a day's pay with no gain in sight.

"Regrettably, it's the residents of South Ayrshire who will suffer as a result of this action and our focus is on maintaining service delivery during the planned stoppages – as far as possible – and ensuring we have robust contingency arrangements in place to deal with any affected areas.

"At this time, we would expect to uplift outstanding bins on the day after the strike action (mostly Fridays), with additional uplifts the following day if required, and we thank our residents in advance for their patience and co-operation.

"In the meantime – given how many employees have accepted the changes – we can only hope Unite recognises how futile its action is, the efforts we've made to protect jobs, and gets behind our employees as we introduce these changes."

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