‘Schoolboy error’ blamed for refuse workers’ industrial action

From The Argus

Union bosses claim a “schoolboy error” has led to binmen taking up renewed industrial action.

Refuse lorry drivers have revived ‘work to rule’ after talks broke down between members of the GMB and Brighton and Hove City Council.

The latest campaign of industrial action is part of the same dispute over job descriptions, which resulted in a work to rule from September to November last year.

Mark Turner, GMB organiser, said the council had made a “schoolboy error” by setting up a “corporately led” panel to look at the proposals without union input, with members complaining it was not impartial.

The union boss argued a new evaluation of job descriptions to reflect drivers’ responsibility and efforts had taken “a step backwards”. Mr Turner said that despite increased financial and legal responsibilities, the job did not move up a single point on the council’s grading scale.

He said: “We could not possibly comment on future strike action; we could not rule it in and we could not rule it out.

“We hope it does not happen but we hope the employer sees some sense.”

Councillor Warren Morgan, leader of the Labour group, said: “We are very disappointed that this dispute hasn’t been resolved and that residents will again see their bins go unemptied.

“We want to see Cityclean compete and expand into commercial waste collection, and that can’t happen while industrial relations are so bad.””

Councillor Geoffrey Theobald said: “The trade union bosses need to accept the verdict of the independent job evaluation panel so that the workforce can get on with the job that residents rightly expect them to do.

“Residents are sick to the back teeth of these antics, which don’t seem to happen anywhere else in the country.”

Richard Bradley, head of Cityclean and Parks, said: “We are extremely disappointed that the GMB has notified us of the driver charge hands’ intention to ‘work to rule’.

“It is a decision that will lead to further disruption to residents at a time when we would want to be working together to put the service in the best place possible to face future challenges. The union has a right of appeal against the job evaluation, which they have not yet pursued.”

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