Council Expresses Frustration Over Ongoing Waste Backlog

Posted by: caroline smith on 29 May 2024 17:10

South Tyneside Council has expressed its frustration and disappointment as it continues to deal with a backlog of bin collections across the borough.


The council is working hard to avoid a build-up of waste as a result of delays to bin collections, including some rounds being missed completely.


Earlier this month, the GMB trade union agreed to pause industrial action to provide a period of respite and stability and support the delivery of an action plan in line with a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which was approved and signed by both the Council and GMB.

It was agreed that all industrial action, including action short of strike, described by GMB as 'work to rule/safely', would be stood down and the workforce would return to 'normal and established working practices' from 7th May.


While the council remains committed to implementing the full range of improvements set out in the action plan, it has concerns about the degree to which the workforce is complying with the MOU, and has raised this with the GMB.


Stuart Wright, Director of Place and Communities, said: "The MOU provided a clear commitment about how both parties intended to move forward to resolve matters.


"It was agreed that the workforce would return to 'normal and established working practices' from 7th May.


"Currently, crews are only completing around 55 per cent of their weekly rounds, meaning they are almost a week behind because they are not working as normal, despite a commitment to do so and in direct contravention of the MOU.


"We have asked the GMB to be clear with their members precisely what is expected of them. We appreciate that so much of our dialogue and negotiations have been via the GMB and not with the workforce direct, but unfortunately, we have had no response from the GMB.


"We're also concerned that progress is being hampered by the refusal of some union members to participate in ongoing dialogue. The degree to which progress can be made in areas such as re-balancing bin rounds is limited if union members refuse to participate in the necessary dialogue, as it is essential that we hear from the staff and work with them to make the improvements they require. 


"Our waste operatives are valued employees, and the action plan aims to better support them in their roles. It is vital that all parties engage in the process so that we can work constructively to deliver the plan and resume a full service for our residents."


Waste collection operatives have been working a rolling programme of waste collections from Tuesday to Fridays, with crews picking up where they left off each working day. Residents are asked to present all bins for collection and leave them out until one is collected. This includes green bins for those subscribed to the garden waste collection service.


To help clear the backlog of collections, that are a direct result of non-usual working practices, skips are being reinstated this weekend, Saturday 1 June to Monday 3 June inclusive at locations across South Tyneside.


Stuart Wright added: "We continue to explore all options to clear the backlog and get the service back on track.


"We recognise that our residents are completely fed up and frustrated and we thank them for their ongoing patience. For many residents, disposal of household waste is their number one priority Council service, and we acknowledge wholeheartedly that the service they are currently receiving is well below that which they should expect.


"We have stressed to the GMB the need for them to work with the crews and the council to get the service back on track for our residents."



For full details of skip locations or any other waste related queries, visit the Council's website at 

Last modified: 29 May 2024 17:12