Refuse service at ‘crisis point’ over funding, union says

Bins overflowing in Hove (Photograph: Maunie Catcheside) SUS-180820-181523001
Bins overflowing in Hove (Photograph: Maunie Catcheside) SUS-180820-181523001

The city’s refuse service is at ‘crisis point’ over a lack of funding, a union has said.

This comes as the council apologised last week for rubbish piling up in the city, and blamed council sickness and annual leave.

The council said: “We apologise for the terrible inconvenience this is causing our residents and businesses.

“The problems are mainly being caused by a temporary shortage of drivers and collectors due to annual leave and sudden sickness.”

Read more: Council criticised over late rubbish collections

But Mark Turner, branch secretary at GMB Sussex, said: “It’s complete and utter rubbish; the issue is definitely not down to sickness.

“It’s down to chronic underfunding because of the cuts to the service over the last three or four years.”

Mr Turner said it was hard for workers when there were absences because ‘they can’t do two days’ work in one’ and cover for their colleagues.

But he alleged claims that 20 staff were off sick on Monday had been ‘exaggerated’ by the council, and said the real number of staff off work was 12; he claims five were sick and the rest on annual leave.

Mr Turner also hit out at ‘party-political point scoring’ over the issue, and said: “They are equally culpable for the problems; they’re all as bad as each other.”

Mr Turner added he could not rule out strike action as a result of the issues and said the likelihood of any action was about 50:50.

“If we don’t see things changing, we will report to our members and take a decision,” the GMB secretary warned. “There are a number of crucial meetings taking place over the next couple of weeks.”