Binmen face sack threat
Council employs private firms to take over duties
BINMEN in Glasgow have been threatened with the sack over a dispute which has seen rubbish pile up in city streets.
Council boss Robert Booth has written to refuse collection staff warning they face disciplinary action if they don’t provide a high standard of work.
Union chiefs say the threat could now hamper talks aimed at resolving the crisis.
BINMEN involved in the increasingly bitter dispute responsible for a month’s backlog of rubbish in Glasgow have been threatened with the sack.
In a clear escalation of the row between the city council and hundreds of its workers, refuse collection staff have been told that if they fail “to deliver an acceptable level of service in carrying out their duties ... this could ultimately lead to dismissal”.
Union sources insist the threat could not have come at a worse time and could jeopardise talks over the weekend between shop stewards and members about returning to normal service.
A source said: “If the authority wants a normal service, this bullying tactic will backfire. It’s inflaming an already volatile situation.”
After more than 12,000 complaints from the public, private contractors have been brought in to clear mounting backlogs of domestic refuse instead of city council teams.
Several private firms, including Shanks, Viridor and A&S, began clearing bulk refuse on Thursday, while local authority teams previously deployed to do this have been merged with council colleagues to collect domestic waste.
In a letter to all st a ff involved in the dispute, the head of the land and environmental services department, Robert Booth, said: “Despite the cost of using subcontractors, we will increase the work we give them until all the backlogs are-dealt with and any threat to public health has passed.”
The unofficial industrial action stems from the introduction of new terms and conditions in February which will see staff working four days on and four days off, although binmen claim this is not the reason for their action.
Senior council officials have also accused “those involved in this unofficial work-to-rule” of deliberately not reporting missed collections in an effort to generate complaints.
Representatives of the GMB union have had difficulty persuading members to resume normal working, with each cleansing depot having an individual opinion of the dispute.
However, yesterday the council accused GMB organiser Martin Doran of reneging on promises that his members would adopt the plans and blamed him for the action.
Mr Doran has questioned the use of private firms.
Mr Booth said: “It is clear this action st e ms from a resistance to the new working patterns to be implemented in February. These were agreed by your trade union in August 2009.
“ There are no job losses as a result of these changes and no-one faces any loss of contractual pay.”
Mr Doran responded: “All council staff surveys have bullying and harassment at the top of the agenda. This is another example of that. People who have received this letter are appalled and disgusted by its contents. They believed themselves to be of more worth than that.”