10 September 2014

Refuse and recycling industrial action update

Following a ballot of refuse and recycling drivers, the GMB Trade Union has given formal notice of its intention to proceed with industrial action, with effect from Friday 12 September 2014.

The industrial action will form the basis of a continuous ‘work to rule’ starting from Friday 12 September 2014 and a one day strike on Monday 15 September. While the ‘work to rule’ is continuous, further strike action cannot be ruled out.

Head of Cityclean and Parks Richard Bradley said;

 “We met with the GMB union to try and reach a resolution and avoid industrial action. The council is unable to meet their demands of increasing the pay of refuse and recycling charge hand drivers as there have been no changes to these roles and this would break the council’s recognised job evaluation scheme.

The council has honoured the agreement made last year and many parts of the Cityclean service are doing a fantastic job.

We remain fully committed to discussions to try and prevent the disruption of service to residents. We have offered  to continue conversations with the GMB.”

Next steps

The council is keen to keep discussing these issues with the workforce and the Trade Unions, but clearly cannot put at risk the wider implications of not abiding by the job evaluation process. This would put the council at risk of equal pay claims and other similar pay claims among other groups of staff. Similarly, it would be inappropriate to formulate additional roles and responsibilities where no business case exists, simply to elevate the refuse / recycling drivers in to a higher pay grade.

We will continue to meet with the unions to try and avoid Industrial action. If it does go ahead we will also meet them immediately following the strike day on Monday 15 September.

Notes for editors

Comparisons have been made with other areas of the council, most notably Street Cleansing Charge-Hands, who are also Scale 4, though who do not possess a Class II driving licence.  Management have offered to train the Street Cleansing Charge-Hands so that they are qualified to drive Class II vehicles, thus removing this perceived parity. This has been rejected by the Trade Unions.

A great emphasis has been placed on the possession of a Class II drivers licence by refuse / recycling drivers.  This has been considered as part of the job evaluation scheme and this has been well communicated to both the workforce and Trade Unions.

Comparisons have today been made by the Trade Union with staff employed at a Scale 5 within the Royal Pavilion.  Given this new information, management have formally requested that the Trade Union postpone the industrial action, so that this may be explored and further conversations take place without the threat of industrial action overshadowing these discussions.  This has been rejected by the Trade Unions.  Management have still provided the Trade Union with the assurance that this new information will be considered and that a formal response will be provided on Thursday 11 September 2014.

It should be mentioned that no equal pay claim has been received by the Trade Union should they believe parity with other similar job roles / groups of staff is not the case here.

The council also requested that the Trade Unions agree to taking up the conciliation services provided by ACAS. This has been rejected by the Trade Unions.

The council offered the opportunity to discuss additional duties that may be remunerated through standby / call out arrangements, should the business case stack up, such as a severe weather standby arrangement. This has been rejected by the Trade Unions.

The Trade Union believe that if drivers have full line-management responsibility for their loaders, this would be sufficient to justify a Scale 5 position. The critical points here however, is that this would not only create another tier of management at a time the council is reviewing its ‘spans’ of control, there is no business case to necessitate this change. Drivers to date have not shown any aptitude or ability to tackle poor performance or challenge values and behaviours that are not consistent with the council's own standards. Team Leaders currently undertake this duty and should quite rightly continue to do so. This would also reduce service flexibility by assigning one crew to a driver.