Refuse collection staff cuts at Eastbourne denied by bosses

Claims that staffing numbers on refuse collection rounds in Eastbourne have been cut are being disputed.

Kier, which runs the waste collection and street cleaning across the town for Eastbourne council, says claims by the GMB union that both staff and vehicles have been reduced are untrue.

The union which represents staff at the Courtlands Road depot, also says its members are unhappy that an agreed pay increase has not yet been implemented.

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The Herald reported recently that trouble was brewing at the depot and staff wanted to ballot on industial action if their grievances were not met.

But a Kier spokesperson said this week, “We are disappointed to hear the GMB is threatening to hold a consultative ballot with a small amount of our workforce at the Eastbourne depot.

“We have been in active discussions with the local GMB representatives and attended a meeting this week where it was clear members were not in favour of a ballot.

“In 2016, we agreed a pay rise with the full support of the GMB and this increase has been implemented in line with the agreed timeframe.

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“There has been no reduction to frontline staff numbers and no significant changes to the number of vehicles that serve the 200,000 homes in the region.

“The GMB’s claims of a fall in service and a backlog in collections are unfounded.

“Performance in Eastbourne has remained consistently high for street cleansing and collection services.”

But the union says that management at Kier must begin to look out for what’s best for their staff, rather than simply trying to limit their own damages or losses.

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Kier, which joined with East Sussex Joint Waste Partnership in 2013 and covers more than 200,000 homes in Eastbourne, Hastings, Rother and Wealden, has been accused of failing to listen to grievances made over the suspending of staff and the failure to deliver on promises of a 3 per cent pay rise made two years ago.

The 10-year contract signed by Kier and the partnership in 2013 is due to be cut short as early as 2019, due to the company’s claim it is not recovering costs on this contract which they signed to run the service.

Declan MacIntyre at the union said, “Management at Kier must begin to look out for what’s best for their staff, rather than simply trying to limit their own damages or losses, before they pull out of their contract with the East Sussex Joint Waste Partnership next year.

“A week and a half ago I met with staff for pay talks, however it soon became a forum for listing their many grievances that had gone unheard by management. These included aggressive behaviour from senior management, and their continued wait for a three per cent pay rise that they were promised two years ago.

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“Staff at Kier were also unhappy at the treatment of one manager who was suspended for divulging information of potential redundancies and relocations, despite this appearing to be exactly what is happening.

“If the senior management, are not willing to do something about their own behaviour and begin to fulfil their promises of a pay rise given two years ago, then GMB will be forced to hold a consultative ballot with members, to see whether industrial action is required.”

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