Councils assessing disruption for 250,000 Notts homes amid recycling worker strike

Inside the Veolia hub in Mansfield
By Andrew Topping, Local Democracy Reporter

Councils across Nottinghamshire are hurrying to assess what impact a strike of waste and recycling workers could have on bin collections for a quarter of a million local households.

The GMB Union has announced the walkout of more than 50 workers at contractor Veolia, which runs household waste treatment sites in Mansfield, Ashfield and Bassetlaw.

Council bin staff are not involved, but kerbside bin collections could still be hit because the Veolia centres are involved in processing much of the county’s household waste.

The week-long strike is due to begin on Monday, September 25.

The union says it could affect a quarter of a million households across the north of the county. Collections in Nottingham City are not expected to be affected.

District and borough councils across the area say they are working with Nottinghamshire County Council – the main waste authority – to assess the impact of the action.

Mansfield District Council says it is “looking at arrangements to minimise disruption”.

Newark and Sherwood District Council added it is “monitoring” the situation but believes it will be able to carry out collections as normal.

Inside the Veolia hub in Mansfield

And Ashfield District Council’s leader says he has written to the county council and Veolia asking for clarity about the potential disruption.

Other district and borough councils across Nottinghamshire have been approached for a comment.

But Derek Higton, Nottinghamshire County Council’s interim corporate director for place, says the authority is also working with Veolia to assess the potential strike action.

He confirmed the county’s network of 12 public household waste and recycling centres should not be affected by the walk-out.

He said: “We are aware of strike action by some Veolia staff taking place during the week commencing September 25.

“We are working with Veolia to understand the impact this may have on the operation of waste transfer facilities and domestic waste collection services in some parts of Nottinghamshire managed by district and borough councils.

“We will provide further updates in the coming days for residents.

“At present, we anticipate that the operation of the county council’s network of household waste and recycling centres will not be affected.”

Confirming the strike on Wednesday, GMB said it will affect Mansfield’s Crown Farm Way materials recovery facility alongside waste transfer sites in Welshcroft Close, Kirkby-in-Ashfield and Claylands Avenue, Worksop.

Inside the Veolia hub in Mansfield

These plants process household waste and recycling for more than 250,000 homes in north Nottinghamshire.

The union says its action comes after Veolia management “refused to engage” in negotiations over a pay rise for staff at the sites.

Mick Coppin, GMB organiser, said: “Veolia Nottinghamshire are raking in vast sums of money from local council taxpayers.

“In return, they’re expecting local workers to do dangerous, difficult, and smelly work for the minimum wage.

“Our members can no longer afford to heat their homes and pay their bills; they’re being driven to the breadline by a multi-million-pound company.

“This is a contractor being left to run amok by Nottinghamshire County Council.

“Cllr Ben Bradley MP and the council’s leadership seem completely distracted. They’re sitting on their hands and leaving residents to face an uncertain future.”

Nottinghamshire County Council did not respond directly to Mr Coppin’s comments about Veolia or its handling of the pending strike.

A Veolia spokesperson added: “Veolia and the GMB Union negotiated and agreed to a two-year pay deal for employees in Nottinghamshire in 2022 which recognised the hard work of our teams.

“We have offered to engage in early pay discussions for 2024.

“Veolia has honoured the agreement both the company and the GMB entered into and it is therefore disappointing the GMB Union has sought to take industrial action at this time.

“We take the safety and comfort of our employees very seriously and the work undertaken is done to industry practice.

“Veolia will seek to minimise any disruption the industrial action may cause.”

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