Residents want end to bins row
FAMILIES are continuing to report 'sporadic' rubbish collections due to a row between a council and bin men over overtime payments.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council has had to draft in crews for extra rounds to help clear backlogs as residents continue to express their frustration over bins being emptied late or on the wrong day.
The authority said it has held 'constructive' talks with union leaders and hopes to resolve the issue soon.
The delays have been blamed on an unofficial 'go slow' by bin men, whose representatives say they are simply working only their allotted hours to avoid cutting corners on health and safety.
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Jim Gibson, chairman of Chell Heath Residents' Association and a former street sweeper, said: "It's really bad because people just don't know when to leave their bins out, and if they're left out on the street you can get a fine.
"I can only see things getting worse when the winter starts and the snow and ice comes along."
Meanwhile, all the biggest unions representing council workers, including Unison, GMB and Unite, are asking the council for a pay rise for their members.
Labour councillor Duncan Walker, of Borrowdale Road, Norton, a member of the GMB union, said: "Our collections have improved and they have been on time recently, but I am still getting reports from other areas.
"It needs to be sorted out because people really notice any change in their bin collections. It's one of the first things they are up in arms about.
"It is extremely difficult because of the budget situation. I just don't know where we are going to find savings of £50 million over two years.
"All of the main unions are asking for a pay rise on the cost of living argument because they've not had a basic rise for years."
Angela Askey, of Fenpark Road, in Fenton, said bins in her area are often picked up a day late.
She said: "They just don't come. I put the bin out on Thursday mornings and you expect it to be emptied when you get home from work but they are not coming until Friday.
"It has been going on since the beginning of August." The row is understood to have stemmed from the council's decision to remove a controversial 'contractual overtime' perk which saw £291,000 paid in overtime over four years to dozens of workers, including bin wagon drivers, who did not have to work any extra hours to claim the payment.
GMB threatened to ballot its members for strike last year over plans to cut bin men's pay.
Dawn Hewins, Stoke-on-Trent City Council's assistant director of HR and transformation, said: "We are continuing to talk to staff and unions about the situation, and those discussions are constructive.
"Wherever possible, collections continue to take place on designated days. On those occasions where they aren't, every effort is made to ensure they are completed as soon as possible the following day.
"We apologise to residents who may have been affected and ask for their patience until the situation is resolved."