Breakthrough in talks to avert Doncaster Christmas bin strike

Talks look to have averted a Doncaster bin strike
Talks look to have averted a Doncaster bin strike

A bin strike which could have hit Doncaster over Christmas looks to have been averted after unions reached an agreement with bosses.

The union Unite have reached an agreement on redundancies associated with changes to Suez’s contract with Doncaster Council.

Following talks between Unite and Suez, with ACAS present, and a formal 90-day consultation with members of staff, SUEZ has agreed to suspend the possibility of making compulsory redundancies for a year – in the hope that the necessary reduction in staff numbers associated with its new contract with Doncaster Council can be achieved through voluntary means in the interim.

Suez has also offered an enhanced voluntary redundancy package to encourage volunteers to step forward from within the workforce, and help avoid the need for compulsory redundancies.

The union has now ditched plans for a strike ballot.

Suez recycling and recovery UK was awarded a contract to provide new recycling and refuse collection services to Doncaster Council in June 2017, The new service is due to be introduced in March 2018.

The contract followed consultation by Doncaster Council which found residents wanted a new, simpler, system which involved substantial changes to the service, including a move to a mixed collection system for recyclable material, ending the process of sorting recycling at kerbside.

It means fewer staff will be required than the current individually-separated weekly recycling collection service requires.

Nick Browning, General Manager for municipal services at Suez said: “As a responsible employer, reducing staffing levels is not something Suez takes lightly and we have sought to negotiate an outcome that meets the long-term needs of the contract, while importantly also protecting the best interests of our staff.

"Having to make compulsory redundancies is not an outcome we want. As such, Suez has this week accepted the financial risk in guaranteeing to the workforce that we will not consider making any compulsory redundancies for a year from now – well beyond the start of the new contract – which we hope will avoid the need altogether in the longer term.

Shane Sweeting, regional Unite officer, said: “It’s not only reassuring news for our members, who were under the threat of compulsory redundancy, but good news for the residents and the local economy. By way of meaningful consultation and negotiation, all parties have managed to secure the jobs of full time employees for a further period of twelve months.

"With the continued commitment and demonstration of goodwill, and support, from Doncaster Council we can endeavour to work towards no compulsory redundancies being required under the new contract.

"These have been difficult negotiations to progress to a satisfactory outcome for all parties. However I’m convinced that, through maintaining the spirit of cooperation, we can ensure the service provided to the residents of Doncaster remains of a high quality at a reasonable cost without the compromise of losing further quality jobs.”

Mayor of Doncaster Ros Jones said: “We are delighted that Suez and Unite have worked together to reach an agreement, and ensured that Doncaster residents won’t be impacted by strikes at Christmas time. This is a great result, and we are very pleased that compulsory redundancies have been avoided.

“With ACAS available to support the negotiations, Suez and Unite have also agreed a pay deal which will benefit staff and should minimise the risk of industrial action in the future. All parties can now fully focus on delivering this vital service for local people.”