City binmen call off threat of strike

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BINMEN in Sheffield have suspended the threat of industrial action following a meeting of union members.

The GMB Union, which voted overwhelmingly in favour of taking action in a row over pay, has agreed to negotiate with employers Veolia.

At the latest Union meeting, members agreed to suspend any action until Wednesday, March 14.

Peter Davies, GMB organiser said: “We have agreed to suspend action - an overtime ban and work to rule was the intention to start with - while we negotiate with Veolia.

“We are hopeful we can resolve this dispute, so commenting any further, given the spirit of the negotiations, would not be appropriate at this moment in time.”

The workers voted in favour of a strike because they have had their wages frozen for three years.

They say their pay has not risen, despite Veolia receiving an inflationary increase from Sheffield Council every year to empty the city’s bins.

Mr Davies denied Veolia claims that staff had not received rises due to an agreement pay changes should be made on the same basis as those for council staff.

Members of GMB, which represents 200 binmen and associated staff, met to discuss industrial action after a ballot found 75 per cent were in favour of strike action and 86 per cent were in favour of taking action short of a strike.

The binmen are already facing the threat of 40 job losses when the frequency of black bin collections in Sheffield is halved from weekly to fortnightly from April.

Residents and councillors have urged the two sides to negotiate.

Steve Rich, of Greenhill and Bradway Tenants’ and Residents’ Association, said: “If they can sit down and sort it out it’s the best thing for the public. I am hopeful they will come to a resolution and everybody will be happy.”

Coun Leigh Bramall, council cabinet member for environment, said: “We want Veolia and its workforce representatives to work out a solution urgently that avoids any disruption to services.”

Veolia said: “It has been agreed with the GMB that any industrial action is to be postponed, so both parties can work to reach a resolution.”