Assurances over missed garden waste collections

Published on Monday 15 April 2019

Households in Angus that are signed up to the garden waste collection service will receive a one month extension to their current subscription as a result of ongoing industrial action.

Strike action by Unite members of the council’s refuse collection staff, has significantly impacted on bin collections, including the garden waste service.

Communities convener, Cllr Mark Salmond said: “We fully appreciate the disruption and inconvenience created by the ongoing strike by members of Unite. It is a situation we worked hard to avoid and we remain committed to ongoing discussions to try to bring this dispute to as swift a conclusion as possible.

“I would like to thank the staff (not taking part in strike action) who have continued to work extremely hard in an effort to fulfil as many scheduled collections as possible. Last week they ensured that approximately 50% of all collections were made. Please remember to leave your bin out until 10pm now that the new shift arrangements are in place.

“Meantime, I am acutely aware that many people who have paid for their garden waste to be collected are not currently receiving those collections. While they were advised on subscription that there will be no refunds for missed collections, these are exceptional circumstances – a union strike that coincides exactly with changes to shift patterns and a time of year when demand for garden waste collections increases.

“All of the approximate 20,000 (households signed up to the garden waste collection service will receive an additional month to their existing subscription.

“We cannot be certain how long this strike action will last – that is a matter for Unite and its members. But we will continue to monitor the impact on the service and ensure that those who have paid for the service are not financially disadvantaged, while seeking solutions to minimise disruption to the overall refuse collection service.”

While busy, Angus Council’s seven recycling centres continue to operate as normal, with the addition of general waste skips at Brechin, Carnoustie, Kirriemuir and Monifieth. Garden waste is also accepted at all recycling centres.

Cllr Salmond said: “We know that the current situation is far from ideal and we fully appreciate the public’s concern. We’re grateful for their pragmatism and support during these challenging times. All our staff are working extremely hard to minimise the inconvenience to our communities and to provide reliable information and accurate advice where possible.

“Information is provided on our website and social media platforms and our ACCESSline customer service staff are here to help those who don’t have access to our digital services. It has been necessary for staff to terminate a number of abusive calls. Please be in no doubt, that we will not tolerate the abuse of staff who are simply trying to do their job in assisting the public. Where necessary, calls of an abusive nature will be reported to the authorities.

“We all want to see an end to this strike action. As stated before, Angus Council is committed to an early resolution but savings must be made and the changes we have introduced means this can be done with no job losses or reduction in service.”

The new shift arrangements introduced on 8 April, the same date that Unite the union and its members of our refuse collection staff elected to begin strike action, will achieve annual savings of £160,000 and remove £2 million worth of vehicles from the fleet. Staff working the new shift pattern qualify for an additional payment for working unsocial hours.

Angus Council has been in discussion with staff and trade unions for approximately 18 months and held more than 20 depot briefing sessions, staff Q&A drop-in sessions, ‘one-to-one’ meetings with every employee and multiple consultative meetings with recognised trade unions. There has also been a formal consultation exercise to give every employee the opportunity to comment on the proposals and which led to several changes being made. A joint steering group of council officers and trade union reps, including Unite, was also formed and met on several occasions to scrutinise associated savings and develop the proposals before they were finalised.

The start of the new shift pattern was postponed for 12 months to give staff more time to prepare for the change.

Our website contains advice and information in relation to the bin strikes that may be of use to you.