Socialist Worker

Refuse workers fight pay cut

by Pat Smith
Issue No. 2161

Refuse collectors in Edinburgh are angry about proposals to scrap bonuses for attendance and productivity and have been working to rule since 25 June.

Rab Brown from the Russell Road depot in Edinburgh said that if the plans went ahead he would be £4,000 worse off and fitters could lose £6,000 a year.

The planned changes are part of Edinburgh council’s single status plan.

The council says around 80 percent of staff would not lose out and that around a fifth would gain – but few council workers believe that.

While some jobs with predominantly women workers, such as cleaners, home helps and nursery nurses are apparently set to get pay rises under the plans, the increases are fairly small compared to the £60 to £70 drop in wages predicted for the refuse workers. For example a home help currently earning £6.40 an hour will get a rise of 27 pence.

Rab said that many of his colleagues are married to women who work as dinner ladies, cleaners and home helps. The family income would fall considerably if the council’s plans were implemented.

He felt bitter about the value that the council placed on the service the cleansing department gave.


He quoted Phillip Barr, Human Resources Officer who had told them, “You’re not worth it.”

Tony Ross, a former steward at the Russell Road Depot said that Health and Safety was a concern to the union and one that he did not feel that the council took seriously. The depot has been without drinking water for 14 days and since asbestos was found in the shower block there have been no shower facilities for two years and the men have to use chemical toilets.

He said that every other council had spent around 6 percent of their budgets to implement the changes while Edinburgh had set aside 3 percent.

The workers feel under attack by the council. The work to rule shows they are understaffed and under resourced but the new plans mean there would be fewer motors on the road.

If they decide to ballot for strike action voting will begin on 23 July and will run for two weeks. If members vote to go out on strike it would begin in the middle of August, during the Edinburgh Festival.

Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'

Article information

Tue 21 Jul 2009, 18:32 BST
Issue No. 2161
Share this article


Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.