Friday, December 31, 2010

Update on domestic refuse collections

I am sure you are well aware that both domestic and recycling collections have been missed across the city over the last two weeks.

I hope this note explains the background to these missed collections and what the Council is doing as a result.

There are three reasons for the missed refuse collections, each of which I will go into greater details.

The three reasons are:

1) The heavy snow fall in the week leading up to Christmas Day.

2) Industrial action by the Council’s refuse workers

3) The additional waste left out during the Christmas and New Year holiday period.

The heavy snow fall in the week leading up to Christmas Day

The heavy snow meant that refuse collections during the week leading up to Christmas Day were restricted to roads that received regular gritting. So in the case of Moseley and Kings Heath Ward, this would have included Alcester Road, Salisbury Road, Wake Green Road, School Road, Billesley Lane, etc. All the side roads did not have a refuse collection.

The non-gritted roads did not receive a collection for the following reasons:

a) The possibility that the refuse trucks would skid in the road, ploughing into parked cars, cyclists, pedestrians or the refuse collectors themselves.

b) The possibility that the refuse trucks would become stuck in the side road, in turn completely blocking it to other traffic that could handle the snowy conditions

c) The possibility that the refuse workers would slip on the pavement or road whilst carrying a heavy sack and causing serious injury

Because of this week’s worth of uncollected rubbish, the refuse workers have had additional waste to collect this week – which in turn has filled the refuse trucks up quickly, resulting in increased trips to the depots to empty the refuse trucks.

Industrial action by the Council’s refuse workers

Without wishing to go into detail as to the cause of the industrial action, the action by the refuse workers has taken a number of forms:

i) A one day strike on Monday 20th December.

ii) An overtime ban

The overtime ban is having the greatest impact on our refuse collection, since the structure of the city’s refuse collection is based on the refuse collectors willingness to do overtime.

This willingness to do overtime, has in past being used as follows:

1) After previous one day strikes, the Council has paid the refuse workers overtime to remove the rubbish caused by their strike.

2) Whenever there is a Bank Holiday, the refuse workers have been paid overtime to remove rubbish on the Bank Holidays.

3) To minimise the number of refuse trucks required, the refuse workers worked a compressed four day week(9.25 hours per day, totalling 37 hours per week), with the fifth day paid as overtime.

As you can see from above, the refusal to work overtime, has resulted in the ‘fifth day’ of working disappearing, no collection on Christmas Day bank holiday(Monday 27th December), Boxing Day bank holiday (Tuesday 28th December) and New Years Day bank holiday (Monday 3rd January)

The additional waste left out during the Christmas and New Year holiday period

It goes without saying too much, that the Christmas and New Year period is a time of parties, big dinners and presents.....which result in increased waste.

What is the Council doing about the uncollected waste

The Council has recruited a "casual" workforce, who will operate the 19 vehicles that originally ran the ‘fifth day’ operation.

The 19 vehicles and ‘casual’ workforce are operating from a newly created depot in Central Birmingham. They began operating on Monday 27th December.

The daily amount of tonnage the casual crew is collecting has significantly increased as they have got used to operating the refuse trucks and learnt the route of the rounds.

The first task for the ‘casual’ crew is to collect all the refuse that wasn’t collected on Monday 27th December (plus the Monday before that). At time of writing, I have been assured that nearly all this rubbish has been collected and they are now beginning to collect the uncollected rubbish from Tuesday 28th December (and the Tuesday before that).

The casual crew will be working throughout this weekend, plus Bank Holiday Monday.

The Council’s permanent workforce have been working this week on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. However, a high number of illnesses on these permanent crews has impacted on their collection rates.

The permanent workforce are working until 3.30pm every day, so anything not collected before 3.30pm will not be collected until next week.

We are hoping that with the New Year bank holiday out the way and hopefully, no more snow, we will quickly get back to normal with our refuse collection service.


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