Strike action hits South Ayrshire bin collections

The Unite union have called strike action for South Ayrshire refuse collectors
The Unite union have called strike action for South Ayrshire refuse collectors

Unions representing refuse collectors say they have reached an ‘impasse’ with South Ayrshire Council over changes to working hours and employment contracts.

Unite The Union started a series of strikes today (Friday) with picket lines at council depots in Girvan and Ayr.

The union say the members have been left with no option but to strike after council leaders sought to impose new contracts and working hours with no consultation.

The first stoppage takes place today (Friday 22 April) with a 24 hour stoppage starting 5:45am.

There are then further stoppages planned on Wednesday 27 April - 24 hour stoppage starting 5:45am and Thursday 5 May - 24 hour stoppage starting 5:45am.

Jim Winter, regional officer for Unite in Ayr, said that the union was originally approached about changes to working hours and a change to a back shift pattern was imposed with no consultation.

He added that the council then imposed a variation to employment contracts with workers given 90 days to accept them with dismissal threated if they did not.

Jim Winter said: “Workers signed up with a letter of objection. We then took a ballot of members with 96 per cent in favour of industrial action.

“After discussions with the council another ballot returned 84 per cent in favour of strike action.

“ Since then we have been on a work to rule with a ban on overtime and selective strike action. We are now at an impasse with the council.”

Mr Winter added that the union want the back shift hours drastically reduced from 10pm at night and say that residents were not consulted on having bin lorries collecting waste at that time of night.

The council say the action is South Ayrshire-wide with individual employees deciding if they want to take part in the strikes.

A statement from South Ayrshire Council said the industrial action is in relation to the introduction of ‘double-shifting’ ¬– early shifts and late shifts – which means fewer lorries are needed and the necessary savings are made without the loss of jobs. The employees affected all receive an additional 5% payment for the new working pattern, which the union says is not enough.

The council says it is continuing to discuss the implementation of the new working arrangements with Unite, while ensuring the continued operation of the double shifts and the preservation of the established collection days for households across South Ayrshire.

In the meantime, the Council is working on contingency arrangements for the planned strike stoppages. Householders should leave their bins out for collection as usual and they will be uplifted as quickly as possible – although this may not be on the scheduled collection day. Household waste can also be taken to the recycling centre in Ayr, which will be open during the stoppage days.

Mike Newall, Head of Neighbourhood Services said: “I am disappointed that Unite the Union has announced further stoppages, but we will continue our ongoing discussions and we thank our householders and business customers for their patience and co-operation during the industrial action.”