Nottinghamshire Council 'confident' of minimal disruption to 250,000 homes amid recycling worker strike

A Nottinghamshire county councillor says he is ‘confident’ contingency plans will limit disruption to households caused by a planned strike of recycling staff.
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The GMB Union confirmed workers at sites in Mansfield, Kirkby and Worksop will walk out for seven days from Monday, September 25, in a row over pay and working conditions, with more than 50 employees expected to stop work.

Veolia is the contractor appointed by the council to process and recycle household waste disposed of by residents at kerbsides.

However, district and borough councils are responsible for collecting this waste from properties and those workers are not due to take part in the strike.

Worksop's Claylands Avenue site will all be impacted by strike actionWorksop's Claylands Avenue site will all be impacted by strike action
Worksop's Claylands Avenue site will all be impacted by strike action

GMB says the walk-out will affect a quarter of a million homes across north Nottinghamshire.

But council officials say they are confident the discussions held with district and borough council leaders and Veolia will limit disruption next week.

A place select committee meeting on September 20 heard contingency plans may include diverting bin lorries to alternative waste processing centres across the county.

This includes waste transfer centres in Colwick, Giltbrook and Newark, but depends on workers at those centres not crossing the picket line and joining the strike.

These centres – alongside the Kirkby and Worksop sites affected by the strike – are transfer stations where waste is handled following district and borough council collections.

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The Mansfield materials recovery facility – also affected by the strike – is where recyclable materials are sorted into different types.

All three centres will down tools for a full seven days amid what union bosses say is necessary action to support financially struggling staff.

But Coun Neil Clarke (Con), cabinet member for transport and environment, said he believes this will not lead to significant disruption.

He said: “Veolia’s members are on strike and they’re our contractors who work on behalf of the council – it’s Veolia’s responsibility.

“Having said that, council officers are working with Veolia to ensure there are contingency plans in place whatever happens with the strike.

“We don’t know whether other members of the same union will cross picket lines and, if not, we’re working with Veolia to ensure there are plans to divert waste to other transfer stations.

“I’m confident there are sufficient plans in place to cope with whatever reasonably arises.”

On the industrial action, Mick Coppin, GMB organiser, said last week: “Veolia Nottinghamshire is raking in vast sums of money from local council taxpayers.

“In return, they’re expecting local workers to do dangerous, difficult, and smelly work for the minimum wage.

“Our members can no longer afford to heat their homes and pay their bills, they’re being driven to the breadline by a multi-million-pound company.”

A Veolia spokesperson added: “Veolia and the GMB Union negotiated and agreed to a two-year pay deal for employees in Nottinghamshire in 2022 which recognised the hard work of our teams.

“We have offered to engage in early pay discussions for 2024.

“Veolia has honoured the agreement both the company and the GMB entered into and it is therefore disappointing the GMB Union has sought to take industrial action at this time.

“We take the safety and comfort of our employees very seriously and the work undertaken is done to industry practice.

“Veolia will seek to minimise any disruption the industrial action may cause.”