Bin strike contingency call

Bins left uncollected on Haigh Road, Wigan
Bins left uncollected on Haigh Road, Wigan

COUNCIL bosses have been urged to put contingency plans in place for when Wigan bin collection schedules are affected by industrial action.

Residents had to wait four weeks for their refuse to be picked up because of the public sector workers’ strike last month.

At the latest meeting of the full council, opposition leader Coun Gary Wilkes told the chamber a four-week wait for residents was unacceptable.

He said: “I know that industrial action is a right for workers. But it would be nice to know that residents are not made to suffer due to a one-day action.

“The money saved from not paying the striking workers on that day should be used to help with empty bins. I think it’s very important for this council to catch up as soon as possible.”

Broken-down vehicles affected collections two weeks ago, meaning residents in Lowton, Golborne, Spring View, Abram, Ashton and Hindley missed collections.

Officers said they had anticipated an increase in volume because of the July 10 strike and measures were put in place to make sure all missed bins were collected by the Friday.

Coun Wilkes suggested that some of the money the council has in reserves could be used to cover missed collections resulting from days of industrial action.

Council leader Lord Smith said: “I agree with Coun Wilkes that bin collections are very important and the council’s service is effective as the numbers show we have a collection rate of 99 per cent.

“We provide an efficient and well-run service.

“Workers have the right to strike. But it seems to me that if people are taking the day off to strike and we pay them back with overtime (to make up with the missed collections) we would have more people going on strike because they would not be losing any money.

“We will see what happens because there could be more strikes in September.”

Public service workers union Unison has already announced plans for a one-day action on September 30 that could involve council workers, binmen and school staff.

Andrew White, 48, of Haigh Road, Aspull, was one resident whose road was missed last month.

He said: “I think it is unacceptable that they expect us to put up with this. In this sort of weather, leaving the bins and extra waste out is an environmental hazard.

“My sense of smell isn’t the best but the stench from the bins is quite distinct.”