Friday, 11 November 2011

Bin dispute ends at last

Edinburgh's refuse collection dispute which has gone on for almost two and a half years is to be ended.  The refuse staff, who were 'working to rule' and refusing to work overtime have now agreed to resume normal working.  The work they declined to do went to other refuse companies.

A Unison representative explained:
". .  .they recognise that, in the current climate, their terms and pay are better protected by trying to work with management in making the service as efficient as possible."
Hello!   So this group of public employees recognise after two and a half years that an efficient service is in everybody's interests.  Welcome to reality.

So where are we now.  Currently, before the Council is a proposal, brought forward by the SNP and Lib Dem Administration, to employ a company to deliver street cleaning, refuse collection and ground maintenance.  Contracted savings are an eye watering minimum of £51m over 7 years with significantly more in prospect, even after very significant legal and employment protection for current employees. And in addition, improvements and capital investment in the service are contractual.

Most of the Lib Dem councillors are in favour.  SNP rejected the proposals last month saying they want the services done in house with the current employees and management.  Labour, although they have previously contracted services out in Edinburgh, have said they will vote against the proposal.  As is usual in these issues, the Greens are allied with Labour.

And I (and my fellow Conservatives) will be voting for the option, brought forward by the Lib Dem and SNP Administration, which is by a long way, the best value for the people of Edinburgh.

Having voted to delay the decision last month (how typical!) the Council will decide how to proceed on Thursday 24th November.  We shall see then who has have changed their minds.

The irony is that, with all the legal and employment guarantees that exist, it will almost certainly be the best option for most of the Council staff who have just agreed to end their dispute.  It is in their interests as well for Edinburgh to have better and more efficient services.

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