Barnet Bin Workers Update: “Where is the money coming from?”

“Where is the money coming from?” or “I thought the Council was in financial trouble?”

At Policy and Resources Committee tonight (20 February 2019) the Corporate Risk register has been produced.

Barnet UNISON notes;  Risk Number STR032

“Implementation of new recycling and waste collection rounds

If issues with the implementation of the new recycling and waste collection rounds continue into the New Year this could lead to further service disruption and financial strain resulting in resident dissatisfaction and reputational damage.

Chief Executive, Statutory Duty,ENV – Modernising Environmental Services

-Ongoing communication with residents on new/revised collection days.-Additional and narrow access vehicles deployed to complete rounds.-Issues with blocked access and assisted collections followed-up.-Additional resources put into Contact Centre to handle increased volume of customer contacts.-Social media monitored and follow-up daily.”

(Source: Corporate Risk Register

Barnet UNISON agrees with the risk identified if the Bin collection service does not return to the excellent service standards it was achieving before the Bin collection service was changed on 4 November 2018.

Feedback from the workforce.

Reports have been coming in this year from across our members working in the Bin collection service about an army of agency workers (sometimes as many as 80 agency workers a day) being deployed to ensure the bins are collected here in Barnet. We are also hearing that there is plenty of overtime for any staff wanting to work extra hours. We are hearing reports the service is sometimes working until late into the evening (10 pm) in order to collect bins for that day.

Unfortunately Barnet UNISON has been unsuccessful so far in obtaining the details of agency workers spend for the Bin collection service or the amount of overtime being used to clear the bins.

Our concern as it clearly identified in the Council Corporate Risk register is that it appears the Bin Collection service is heavily reliant on an army of agency workers and overtime.

Barnet UNISON is fully aware of the financial pressures on Council finances as identified in the reports for the Policy and Resources Committee this evening. Barnet UNISON is attending numerous consultation meetings with staff across the Council who are being subjected to cost saving proposals/restructures because the Council needs to make savings.

It is therefore deeply troubling to see the Bin Collection service appear to be relying on army of agency workers and lots of overtime 16 weeks since the service was changed.

In the absence of any information from the Council we note that at Environment Committee on 21 January 2019 it was agreed:

“That the committee noted that a report in relation to the bin collection arrangements be added to the work programme and submitted to the next meeting on 14 March”

(Source: Environment Committee, Monday 21st January, 2019 7.00 pm )

Barnet UNISON was present at Environment Committee, Monday 21st January where officers reported that they had spent an extra £250k trying to collect the bins. If our members reports are correct that figure will be a lot higher.

We await to read the detailed report on the Bin collection rounds going to the Environment Committee on Thursday 14 March 2019.

Watch this space……….. 

***Please note that the use of emphasis/underlining is made by Barnet UNISON.