Bin collection staff in the Derbyshire Dales who are part of the trade union GMB – all but five staff – went on strike on Friday (October 15) and Monday (October 18), with further strike action being considered.
Derbyshire Dales District Council, which outsources its bin collections to private firm Serco at a cost of £3.1 million a year, says the strike action has caused problems.
This comes after many months of disruptions to services caused by a slew of issues, including Covid-19 absence, Brexit causing labour shortages, low pay for bin collection staff and lockdown hitting driver training.
The council has now said: “Unfortunately, industrial action now means we have another mountain to climb in terms of collection backlogs.
“To be fair to the crews, they have worked hard throughout the pandemic and to make up for reduced numbers caused by the nationwide shortage of HGV drivers.”
It claims that less than one per cent (2,995) of bin collections have been “missed” out of the 437,947 scheduled between July 27 and October 12.
This is despite separate food waste collections being suspended; excess recycling collections being suspended; and garden waste collections being suspended through August.
Due to these being “suspended” the pickups will not be listed as “missed” because there was no attempted collection.
It also says this figure of 99 per cent of pickups collected includes the number of collections that were late and not collected on their scheduled day – but eventually collected – due to a sizable backlog.
The authority also says there is an unknown number of bins which have been missed but not reported to the council.
It claims: “While some Derbyshire Dales residents have unfortunately suffered disruptions in recent months, for which we apologise, more than 99 per cent received a decent service in the whole of August, September and the first week in October, when separate food waste collections were suspended, together with excess recycling, to enable Serco to clear earlier backlogs.”
Last summer the council said Serco had “missed” 450,000 pick-ups during lockdown, with garden waste collections suspended, leaving the council itself to carry out 3,051 bin collections on Serco’s behalf.
This time around pickups for suspended services have not been classed by the council as missed.
Last week, the district council agreed to launch a full investigation into Serco’s management of the bin collection contract in the Dales, with a report to be debated in January.