The Plight of Edinburgh City Refuse Collectors

A worker in the Council Refuse Collection department writes:

Over the last 7 years we have endured some of the hardest cuts and conditions within the council. We will start with 4 years of cuts, from 2005 we started with 12 refuse Lorries per section. Within the council statistics of satisfaction for services we were running at 94-96 %, the closest to refuse were home helps with a score of 47%.I think anyone would agree that this was an excellent satisfaction rate.

Over the next 4 years we had 4 Lorries removed from each of 4 sections, this took us from 12 Lorries per section down to 8. Over this period we still gave a 94-96% satisfaction record. The workforce during this period really buckled down and still delivered a first class service.

From 2009 we were to undergo new changes with a new single status program being enforced upon us. This new single status that has been imposed on us means that we are going to loose on average £6,000 per annum from our salaries. Edinburgh City Council now expect to get the same level of service from its employees for a lot less money, this is not a highly paid job to start with and these men and woman are now going to find themselves probably losing their homes, The salaries were on average £19,400 and will now be reduced to £12, 500, .I am still of the opinion that this atrocity should be put to the courts of human rights.

Over the last 20 years we have worked a 9 hr day 4 days a week to make the most of the vehicle running time i.e. drivers can drive for 9 hrs this means that collectors can work a full 7hrs in a day the other 2 hrs are taken up by getting to and from routes, break times and going to tips to tip refuse. Routes are designed around a 5 day week because of the size of the work load.

Edinburgh City Council have now decided to have the refuse dept now work a 5 day week, this means the work force have lost another 52 days by redirecting their 36 hrs over 5 days, for the working staff this has added even more cost to their working week, travel costs, meal costs, and child care costs, these are just a few of the expenses that we are having to find even with the amount that has already been removed from their salary. But this is not a good working practice for the council nor the rate paying public, just to put this into layman terms, and a quick overview :- working hrs on 4 days = 7hrs x 4 = 28 hrs working time. Working hrs on 5 days = 5 hrs x 5 = 25 hrs working time

As you can see right away you are not utilising the working time to its maximum use also the Lorries are the greatest expense, we run 86 domestic Lorries a day which are crewed with 3 people. Lorries are the greatest expense in this equation estimated cost per Lorry is £ 250,000 to buy and running cost estimated at around £ 100,000 per year, we are loosing 258 Lorries working hrs a week and that also equates to 774 man hrs a week. This also means that on a daily basis we are reducing the amount of waste we can pick up on a daily basis, I would have thought that the whole reason for all this change was to save money not to spend more. We are now being asked to work overtime to cover the extra workload.

Also the council have brought in private contractors again to also cope with the extra workload. We have been through a process where private contractors were sidelined in favour of an in-house bid so why are we still using them? Within the refuse department we have a lot of staff that are temporary, how can we possibly have so many temporary staff when we have to also bring in private contractors to cover work. I really feel that someone needs to come into the refuse section and really have a good look at what is going on, we have absolutely no faith in the people running this service.