Strike and overtime ban in bin dispute
Bin collectors will down tools for a day and refuse to work overtime in a dispute with the council over shift and overtime changes.
Unison announced there will be a strike on August 31 followed by a six-day overtime ban over working conditions being altered as part of the town hall’s move to three-weekly bin collections.
The dispute concerns the planned introduction of irregular working hours which could see staff required to extend their shift to 11 hours from 6.30am to 5.30pm without notice.
The union also claims the council plans to introduce four additional working days a year for training and compulsory overtime at Christmas.
Unison says its staff have already accepted a range of proposals designed to slash costs by £2m a year, including job losses and a four-day week, and the latest changes will create unacceptable problems for employees.
Tracy Roberts, Unison Wigan branch secretary, said: “The council wants to impose a 5.30pm finish time that will mean that bin wagons will be on the streets of the borough during the evening rush hour.
“The late finish will create problems for workers with caring responsibilities and some will have to pay for additional childcare provision at significant cost just in case they are asked to stay late.
“Christmas shifts have always been covered by volunteers and the council’s plan to force staff to work over the festive period regardless of their circumstances is cruel and unnecessary. Wigan Council is playing havoc with the family lives of low-paid workers.
“Refuse collectors do a job that is physically very demanding. They are working from early in the morning in all weathers and they can walk as far as 15 miles and empty 2,000 bins in a shift.
“Extending the working day to 11 hours will be exhausting.
“We’ve delivered the savings. We’ve accepted the smaller workforce and the four-day week. All we want is a set start and finish time and no introduction of compulsory overtime.”
A refuse loader, who asked not to be identified, said the new shifts would cause difficulties as he needed to be home by 4.30pm to look after the children once his partner went to work.
Unison stressed the union remains available for talks.
Kevin Lucas, Unison’s regional manager, said: “The council is trying to provide a waste collection service on the cheap. Their plans are bad for residents and for refuse collection staff.
“The council needs to think again. It’s not too late for the council to avert a disruptive strike. They need to meet with us urgently and agree a way forward.”
The union says staff who have not accepted the new arrangements have been told they will be dismissed on September 24 and invited to return under the new contracts.