South Tyneside Counci 'frustrated' over waste collection backlog

Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

South Tyneside Council says it is 'frustrated and disappointed' at an ongoing backlog of bin collections in the borough - saying it has concerns about how much staff are following an agreed action plan.

The local authority struck a deal with the GMB union that the workforce would resume 'normal and established working practices' from 7 May, but says workers are currently completing around 55% of their weekly rounds.

The council says it is working hard to avoid a build-up of waste as a result of the delays which have included some rounds being missed completely.

Meanwhile, the GMB Union has said they are "shocked and surprised" by the council's statement, affirming "no industrial action of any kind has taken place for weeks."

As a result, skips are being reinstated from Saturday 1 June to Monday 3 June inclusive at locations across South Tyneside to help clear the backlog.

The council added that it has contacted the GMB union to state its concerns.

Stuart Wright, Director of Place and Communities for South Tyneside Council, said: "Currently, crews are only completing around 55 per cent of their weekly rounds, meaning they are almost a week behind because they are not working as normal, despite a commitment to do so and in direct contravention of the MOU.

"We have asked the GMB to be clear with their members precisely what is expected of them. We appreciate that so much of our dialogue and negotiations have been via the GMB and not with the workforce direct, but unfortunately, we have had no response from the GMB.

"We're also concerned that progress is being hampered by the refusal of some union members to participate in ongoing dialogue. The degree to which progress can be made in areas such as re-balancing bin rounds is limited if union members refuse to participate in the necessary dialogue, as it is essential that we hear from the staff and work with them to make the improvements they require.

"Our waste operatives are valued employees, and the action plan aims to better support them in their roles. It is vital that all parties engage in the process so that we can work constructively to deliver the plan and resume a full service for our residents."

In response to South Tyneside Councils statement, the GMB union has blamed the lack of bin collections on the local authority's own "mismanagement".

In a statement, the GMB Union said: "We are shocked and surprised by South Tyneside Councils decision to publicly issue a statement denouncing the workforce for ongoing waste collection problems across the county.

"Whilst there is an ongoing dispute over bullying and harassment in the service GMB pause planned strike action following discussions with the authority. No industrial action of any kind has taken place for weeks.

"Any ongoing collection issues are down to the mismanagement of the service, mismanagement that the GMB have been highlighting for over a year.

"South Tyneside have had over eight weeks to organise the return to normal working. It is a demonstration of the poor management and leadership of the service that they have both failed to get the service on track whilst also putting out misleading statements."

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