Strike binmen will be paid overtime

STRIKING refuse workers in Suffolk's county town will be paid overtime rates to clear a backlog of uncollected waste this weekend, the EADT can reveal.

STRIKING refuse workers in Suffolk's county town will be paid overtime rates to clear a backlog of uncollected waste this weekend, the EADT can reveal.

The move, set to cost Ipswich Borough Council between £500 and £1,000, was last night branded “regrettable” by the town's MP, Chris Mole.

But a spokesman for the authority claimed it had no choice in making the time-and-a-half offer to the 35 staff members.

He said: “We have fortnightly collections and do not want to leave householders, whose normal black bin emptying service is a Tuesday, hanging on to rubbish for a month.

“We've no alternative other than to operate a catch-up collection on Saturday. As this will be classified as voluntary duty for the refuse operatives, we're obliged to pay overtime rates.”

The spokesman added while the council is making extra overtime payments to refuse staff, it saved around £50,000 yesterday by not paying striking workers.

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Mr Mole backed the council in making alternative refuse collection plans.

He said: “I don't think the council can leave people with uncollected waste for any length of time, particularly the black bins.

“It is regrettable it will have to pay more money to collect it. The irony is that part of this dispute is about trying to head off long-term costs for councils and tax payers.”

Elsewhere in Suffolk, disruption to services was minimised, despite thousands of workers taking part in the strike.

In Waveney, 283 employees joined the action. Although delayed, refuse collections will not run into the weekend.

Phil Harris, of the district council, said two of its offices were closed due to the dispute.

Disruption to services in mid Suffolk was also “minimal”, according to district council spokeswoman Sally Easton.

She estimated about 40 employees took part in the strike and added: “The only impact was the housing repairs service only took emergency calls.”

Bin collections in the Suffolk Coastal area suffered from the action, with the council organising a double collection next week to compensate.

Although none of the district council's services were completely cut, the loss of about 100 workers meant some operated at reduced strength.

At Forest Heath District Council, 48 staff went on strike, while St Edmundsbury Borough Council lost about 60 staff to the action. Chief executive Deborah Cadman said efforts had been made to miminise its impact.

Forty civilian workers at Suffolk police also walked out but no employees went on strike in Babergh. A spokeswoman for the district council said its rules mean strikers must give three months' notice of any action, which has been honoured by staff.

Libraries in Ixworth, Saxmundham, Newmarket and Ipswich Record Office were all closed yesterday. Others in Elmswell, Kesgrave, Lowestoft, Ipswich and Bury Record Office had restricted openings, while 16 Suffolk schools also shut their doors.

Suffolk County Council cancelled the meeting of its resources, finance and performance scrutiny committee due to the action.

Sue Sida-Lockett, deputy leader of the authority, said: “This is a national issue and it's a shame services in Suffolk have been affected by this. I hope the issue can be resolved as quickly as possible.”

Pickets were manned across the county, including at Shire Hall, Bury St Edmunds, Clapham House, Lowestoft, Endeavour House, Ipswich and Newmarket Hospital.

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