A second day of strike action by refuse collection crews in Angus is taking place today (April 9) in a dispute over changes to shift patterns.
Unless a resolution is found, the strike action which is being led by the Unite trade union, is due to last until Friday (April 12) and could continue each Monday and Tuesday for the next 11 weeks.
The dispute centres on changes to shift patterns for collection crews introduced by the council as part of efforts to save £36 million over the next three years.
The proposed changes include introducing two shift patterns for crews which will be spread out between 06:00 and 22:00 – having only previously operated a day shift – to reduce the number of vehicles needed to operate the service. Striking workers say the proposals will affect their work/life balance.
The council has said this change would enable it to operate two collection shifts every day and reduce the number of vehicles needed to operate the service, allowing it to remove “£2 million worth of vehicles from our fleet and will mean that the service can save £160,000 per year”.
Angus council has also said that this is the only way to make the savings without cutting jobs.
“Angus council has been in consultation with our staff and their trade unions representatives over the last 18 months,” a spokesperson said.
It added: “In recognition that the new shift patterns would mean significant change for staff, their introduction has been delayed by 12 months to give more time for staff to prepare for the change.
“We remain committed to continuing discussions with Unite in an effort to find a resolution to this dispute.”
During the strike, the council has urged residents to put their bins out as normal and place them on the kerbside before 6am on their scheduled collection date. Plans are also ongoing to work on contingency measures to minimise disruption during the industrial action.
Speaking to letsrecycle.com this morning, Dougie Maguire, Unite’s regional co-ordinating officer, said that the union is ‘determined’ to find a solution.
He commented: “We are on day two of the first five-day stoppage, and every one of our guys out there seems very determined to find a solution. There are some council workers working, who are not members of Unite, but they will not be able to provide the same service.
“We continue to work with the council to find a solution to ensure the people of Angus do not have to suffer, but the council seem determined to wait this one out. We understand that the council is under pressure to save money, but we feel that the contribution our members make outweighs the need to save money this way. Many have chosen this career path because of the work/life balance and this shift change is unreasonable, and I hope the people of Angus can understand this.
“We have been speaking regularly with the council, but at the moment any solution has been on the basis that they need to save the same sum, which our options do not. We want to find a solution to meet in the middle.”