Dozens of bin workers at risk of redundancy as Camden cuts some weekly collections
Camden say they are moving to fortnightly collections in some areas - to save money and improve recycling rates
23 February, 2017 — By Tom Foot
A SHAKE-UP of rubbish and recycling collections has put dozens of bin collection workers at risk of redundancy.
Details of the possible cuts, sent to the New Journal by concerned staff, reveal how, overall, 34 bin collection workers in Camden could lose their jobs. Seventeen street sweeper posts are also being axed along with three foremen and two managers, according to documents sent out to staff last month.
The Town Hall awarded an eight-year contract extension to Veolia in September that was worth £5million less each year than what it was paying before. According to the letter from the company: “To achieve the £5million savings required it is proposed that there would be a reduction of 28 loader positions and six driver positions on the Camden Collections Service.”
One of Veolia’s workers told the New Journal: “We are all reading in the Camden New Journal about this big row about changing recycling in certain areas. It is being spun as being about recycling. But really this is just about saving money and getting rid of jobs. If it was all about the recycling, why are they getting rid of workers on the recycling teams?”
The source said that, under the plans, the teams that collect rubbish and recycling in Camden – one driver and three loaders – would be cut to two loaders. The documents add that “while the reduction in operational workforce will appear on the surface to be significant, the fall-out could be stemmed by “employing smarter working practices”.
But the source said that it would simply mean staff doing more work, which can be exhausting.
This week staff are having meetings with managers who are understood to have contacted managers about job losses while they were on their rounds. According to Veolia, its new contract is worth £18million a year and has been agreed on the promise that the council’s recycling rates increase to at least 40 per cent by 2020.
Camden has one of the worst recycling rates in the country and the council has said that the new waste disposal contract will help change this. But the debate has so far focused on the impact of switching refuse waste collections from weekly to fortnightly collections, starting on April 1.
The source said: “Camden is terrible at recycling – we see it every day. When you look at what’s being thrown away – it’s all kinds of plastic bottles. You can see it all going in the landfill when it doesn’t have to. They think that on April 1 everyone is suddenly going to understand what to do. They are not. It takes time for people to get used to a new way of doing things.”
When the New Journal contacted Veolia about staff concerns that a spike in disciplinary hearings in August and September was connected to savings for the contract, the company said: “There had been no reductions in our workforce as a result of our winning the new contract with Camden Council.”
Last night (Wednesday), a Veolia spokeswoman said: “We are currently in consultation on a proposed restructure to the way we deliver our services. We will make every effort to mitigate the number of proposed redundancies and are hopeful that any affected staff will be able to be redeployed within one of our London contracts.”