PEOPLE are being told not to put out recycling or food bins for collection during strikes by South Gloucestershire’s bin crews.
The council has advised residents that it is prioritising fortnightly collections of black bins and nappy sacks by those staff still working during strike action.
Union Unite announced on June 27 that it was extending the strike – originally planned to run until July 9 – throughout the summer to September 3, saying bin contractor Suez and South Gloucestershire Council had “ignored repeated requests by Unite to engage in talks to resolve the dispute”.
The action followed a one-week strike earlier in June, staged by 150 workers in response to a pay offer described as a “significant real terms pay cut”.
As the second strike began on June 26, the council said there would not be “sufficient staff” to collect recycling or green bins and urged people not to put them out.
It is still advising residents to put out black bins on scheduled days and report missed collections.
A spokesperson said the authority was “aware of residents’ concerns over food waste not being collected for some time, especially in the hot weather”.
People were being advised to use a plastic bag or double bag food waste and ensure it is tightly tied up to minimise smells.
Recycling centres in Yate, Thornbury and Mangotsfield were being kept open, with extra facilities set up to deposit food waste. Union Unite said 89% of workers who took part in a ballot voted to strike, after rejecting an 8% per cent pay offer from he council’s waste contractor Suez.
The union said: “With the real rate of inflation, RPI, at 11.4%, this is a significant real terms pay cut.
Unite says Suez made profits of £80.8 million in 2021. The company’s South Gloucestershire bin loaders earn £11.53 per hour – equivalent to around £460 for a five-day week at eight hours per day, or just under £24,000 a year.
Unite regional officer Ken Fish said: “Our members have been forced to take action because Suez refuses to table a reasonable pay offer.
“This is a lucrative contract and the council needs to intervene and force Suez to put forward a fair offer to our members.”
Suez says its two most recent pay offers, this year and last, together represent a pay increase of up to 16.75%.
A spokesperson said: “Industrial action is the very last outcome we want to see – we still believe our offer is a competitive one and our door remains open to Unite Trade Union.
“However, with talks currently stalled, we are developing contingency arrangements with the council so that we can minimise disruption for local communities.”