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Update on Dispute Impact

posted 28 Jul 2009, 12:53 by myEdinburgh Admin
In a report to the Transport, Infrastructure and Environment Committee today (Tuesday 28 July), an update was provided on the impact unofficial industrial action has been having on service delivery.

Unofficial action has had a very serious impact on the cleanliness of the city. For example;

  • domestic waste collection is 2-4 weeks behind schedule
  • trade waste collection has been seriously affected with refuse sacks left on the street causing cleanliness and hygiene problems. Trade Waste customers are able to change to alternative providers and are indeed doing so. This could have serious financial implications for the Council and could lead to fewer refuse collection jobs.
  • On-street containers have been prioritised and whilst some areas are unaffected there are particular hotspots which crews appeared to have deliberately ignored.
  • Externally contracted services (blue and red recycling boxes) are unaffected by the action but recycling services on-street and at supermarkets have been badly hit.
  • Garden Waste has been badly hit – this is in part because resources have been redirected to other, higher priority services.

Some crews, especially in trade waste collection, have deliberately refused to follow management instructions and there have been allegations of crews behaving irresponsibly, for example, not collecting waste or collecting waste from certain houses in a street.

Some street cleaning staff who had initially agreed to work as vehicle drivers have now declined to continue doing so which has significantly restricted service delivery.

Mark Turley, Director of Services for Communities said, “We are proposing a change in shift systems as staff currently work 4 days on followed by 4 days off. This arrangement is obviously attractive to staff but does not meet business requirements. Some rounds finish much earlier because the city is now recycling nearly a third of our domestic waste and it is not unusual for some to complete their round 2 to 3 hours short of their paid working day. We propose to make changes so that this resource can be used where it is needed; ensuring a more effective service and value for money.”

The report also outlines how, when Council departments were reorganised and Service for Communities created, one of the core aims was to modernise the way that services were delivered; moving away from old fashioned shift systems, high levels of demarcation and an over-reliance on overtime. The aim has been, and remains, to create a modern, flexible workforce which is better able to respond to the varying needs of communities and which is more closely integrated with other neighbourhood services.

Council Leader Jenny Dawe said, "We have been open and honest with the Unions from the outset of this dispute. Our door is always open and we are ready to talk as soon as they are and are prepared to discuss payments for more flexible working and other service changes. Talks with The Trades Unions and senior Administration Councillors are scheduled for later this week and it is hoped that they will allay many of the concerns of the unions and their members and will allow us begin to proceed towards a satisfactory conclusion.”

Source: The City of Edinburgh Council