Mutiny on the binbags in Milton Keynes
Mutinous binmen are considering going on strike because of the way they claim they are treated by their bosses and members of the public.
The crews work for private company Serco, collecting rubbish from than 100,000 homes in Milton Keynes on behalf of the council.
This week the council has apologised after collections were delayed on 84 streets on six estates – because the weather has been too wet.
But some binmen blame new overtime rules and changes to finish times that have caused discontent among crews.
“The mood here is not good at all and there’s a lot of talk about going out on strike. Serco is draining us,” said one refuse collector.
The 19 crews have always worked on a ‘job and finish’ basis, starting at 7am and finishing whenever they complete their individual rounds.
New rules mean the crews are grouped together and can only knock off when every other crew in the group has finished.
“We do a job that is physically very hard and it’s also stressful. Having to work an extra hour or two is just proving too much,” said another employee.
“You have no idea of the stress involved. We pick up bin bags people have filled with dog poo and frequently get the stuff sprayed in our face when we put the bag through the hopper in the back of the truck,” he added.
“People put broken glass in bags and we get cut when we lift them up. Recently one of our crew was badly cut because someone threw a big kitchen knife into their bin bag.”
Several refuse collectors have also had to go to hospital after being pricked by dirty hypodermic needles that people throw out in the rubbish.
“It’s not a pleasant job and we get paid just under £9 a hour. Would you do it for that?” asked another.
Serco gets paid £12 million a year by Milton Keynes Council to collect rubbish and keep streets clean.
Mark Sturgeon, Serco’s contract manager said the new system would mean better balanced rounds and ensure all 121 Serco employees were treated fairly and equally.
He said there was “no intention” of any planned industrial action, but admitted: “We expect some minor disruption to service while this new approach beds in.”
Mr Sturgeon added: “We acknowledge that there have - and continue to be - some technical issues with our vehicles, which we are addressing with the manufacturer, and are currently halfway through a complete refurbishment of our entire fleet.”