Fortnightly bin collections 'will be catastrophic for Hull', say refuse collectors who threaten strike action
BINMEN threatening strike action over cuts to jobs and services claim moves to introduce fortnightly collections will be "catastrophic" for the city.
Hull City Council is proposing to move away from weekly bin collections and instead empty all bins every fortnight.
The council claims the move will save £1m as it looks to make £33m of savings over the next two years.
It would lead to 36 redundancies.
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However, Unison which represents Street Scene workers, says the team is already "cut to the bone".
Ron Wilkinson, lead negotiator for Unison, said: "There are many areas of Hull where weekly collections are paramount for residents.
"It would be catastrophic for the city if bins were not collected every week.
"We recognise in some areas the black bins do not need to be collected every week because people are recycling but those blue bins still need collecting every week.
"A lot of the areas in Hull are high-occupancy areas, families with children who rely on a weekly collection.
"If we didn't collect weekly in these areas, people would end up putting their overflow waste into their recycling bins.
"It would cost the council more in the long run as they would be paying more in landfill taxes if people were no longer recycling."
The workers are in a 90-day consultation with the council and say they "are prepared" to take industrial action, including striking if necessary, if the authority does not rethink its strategy, which it wants to introduce next April.
Mr Wilkinson said: "If they don't rethink their strategy there is a strong possibility of industrial action, which could lead to strikes.
"This would be done after the 90-day consultation period, legally and properly.
"The council is attacking the most vulnerable in the workforce, where there are some of the hardest workers who are the lowest paid.
"If we were to strike it would have a massive effect.
"The residents would see first- hand just what a good job the lads do and the streets would be full of refuse."
The proposed redundancies come after changes were made to the binmen's terms and conditions three years ago.
Mr Wilkinson said: "We've already suffered enough cuts and now they are attacking us again.
"These are dedicated staff who have helped the council achieve their recycling targets.
"They have not even consulted us – we found out about these plans through the Hull Daily Mail."
The decision to move to fortnightly collections was made by the ruling Labour group following the results of a residents' survey in which 48 per cent of respondents said they would like to move to weekly blue bin collections.
Lib Dem opposition councillors say the results of the survey have been ignored.
Councillor Claire Thomas said: 'It really is a ludicrous situation to conduct a survey only to ignore the response.
"Why bother doing a survey if there was only ever going to one outcome?"
However, council leader Steve Brady said: "The simple fact is we have got to make a great effort to balance the budget.
"In the past 18 months we have made very few people redundant, unlike the chaos that reigned under the Lib Dems.
"It is their Government that is making all these cuts and we are left to pick up the pieces locally."