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Binmen could lose £4.4k a year with 'rubbish' new pay deal

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: November 16, 2012

ON THE ROAD: Refuse collectors in Swansea fear they will could lose up to £4,000 in their annual pay packets after a shake-up of council pay

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BINMEN claim they are set to lose thousands of pounds a year as Swansea Council streamlines its working terms and conditions.

They say they fear they will lose their homes and will have to take second jobs to make ends meet.

All the workers who contacted the Post said they wanted to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals.

One man who works on the black bag collection round said: "We had a meeting and we are going to lose £4,400 a year — everybody across the board, except drivers because they (the council) call them skilled and us unskilled.

"They are saying we are the same as a dinner lady — but we work outside in all weathers.

"We work 37 hour weeks, starting at 5am. I do the rounds with black bags. The boys are frightened. They are worried they will lose their houses."

Swansea Council is obliged by law to bring its employees' terms and conditions in line. This is called Single Status.

It has taken into consideration matters including holidays, bonuses, who pays for membership to professional boards, and pay structures.

Those set to lose pay, will have their salary safeguarded for one year.

Another refuse worker, who collects commercial waste, claimed he would lose around half his pay, including a "charge hand rate" for being in charge of the lorry.

"I've got a mortgage and two small children. It's not realistic how much I'm going to lose. Nobody can lose that much.

"I work antisocial hours — I start at 5am. We're supposed to be all in this together but they are clobbering us."


A third refuse collector said he feared he would have to take a second job.

"I haven't had a pay rise in five years," he said. "Now we're losing money. I work 37 hours over four days a week. It's a stinking dirty job.

"I have two children — my youngest is six — and my wife works, so on that fifth day I can pick up my child from school and not put them in a club. I face to lose around £90 a week. I can't afford that.

"I will have to get a second job, but I doubt I'll find one that will pay me that for one day a week. We face having to sell our house."

A council spokesman said: "Like all local authorities Swansea Council is legally bound to implement a pay and reward system that gives equal pay for work of equal value. It's been a long process that has involved checking every job in the council. It has taken eight years and the trade unions have been involved every step of the way.

"We can't comment on individual cases because we are waiting for the unions' responses. Under Single Status 8 out of 10 council staff will benefit or stay the same. Those gaining the most will be those who have been working for years in low-paid roles which don't have bonus payments.

"Swansea Council is no different to any other local authority which has implemented single status in that refuse workers have seen reductions in pay because of the ending of bonus schemes.

"However, all staff who face reductions will see their pay protected for a year. In the meantime the council will work with employees to see if they can be re-skilled or whether their jobs can be made more responsible so that any loss is lessened or negated.

"Under the current proposal, refuse workers will be paid night rate at time and a third between 5am and 6 am. If they work after 7pm, they will get an unsocial hours payment of time and a third."

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  • VISIONSKI  |  November 19 2012, 4:13PM

    Having read several comments about the above subject it is hard for most people now. To those who make statements about living within their means hindsight is a wonderful thing. Most people strive to improve their standered of living is that so wrong? Do we all want to live with the constant threat that tomorrow it maybe our turn to lose our job. It`s a constant worry for all working people but our Country has not got the protection on jobs that others have. It`s a sad time and I wish I had all the answers.

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  • Eric_Pode  |  November 19 2012, 3:15PM

    Well done the women workers on Birmingham Council. You thought that you had a smart lawyer on your side to get you bonuses and overtime. Instead, you got a Tory Government to rip up the old terms & conditions and replace them with new t&cs that puts all of the teams who do heavy manual work out of doors in all sorts of weather conditions in the same boat as you. Isn't equality wonderful?

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  • brochadav  |  November 19 2012, 2:20PM

    Siarad, do you still have a mortgage? As a pensioner I assume you have no young children to look after either. It all costs money and while mortgage companies will try to help, a big decrease in wages can be devastating. I can't tell you what everyone's individual circumstances are but I can guarantee some will be hit harder than others, some may not be able to afford their bills. Some will not notice and carry on regardless. That doesn't make this fair, it doesn't mean it's right. If this cut is based on skill level then I have to ask what skills our elected reps have? what training did they recieve? what experience have they got? Do they do something that any man or woman off the street couldn't walk in and do? Have they got any more skill than a bin man or dinner lady?

    |   1
  • siarad2  |  November 19 2012, 12:39PM

    @brochadav As a pensioner, after the banking crisis, my income was reduced by a greater percentage while mortgages were reduced so how come they 'can't afford your mortgage'

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  • brochadav  |  November 19 2012, 10:03AM

    Intelligent1, well done for living within your means, but we are not talking about credit cards or loans here. These workers have normal bills to pay, mortgages, if you have cards and loans you can't pay back there is a legal recourse for you. If you cannot afford your mortgage anymore you may well lose your home. You can live within your means, be able to save as well, but that means nothing if you suffer a huge pay cut. How do you know what situation these bin men are in. Living within your means can suddenly become an overspend if you lose 20% (or more) of your income.

    |   4
  • intelligent1  |  November 19 2012, 8:52AM

    torquemada Not living in swansea I would not know whether you have wheelie bins or rubbish bags - being clever bears no mark on my knowledge of the recycling/refuse system in another local authority area - can I ask whether you know what they use in Neath POrt Talbot, Carmarthen, Bridgend - I doubt you do. And it has nothing with being snobby - its just that for too long people have bought things on credit, had what they can't afford and now the time has come when they are realising that they cant afford to pay for what they have had. I have always managed on the money I have and not taken out large amounts of credit and therefore am in a position to carry on living the way I always have. You can blame the banks if you want but when it comes down to it the banks only lend to people who want to borrow. Therefore I have little sympathy for peolpe who go on about wage cust and not being able to afford to live - yes you can - you just need to appreciate the value of money and not get into a position where you possibly cannot afford to live in the future if your pay is cut - after all - we have known about the possibility of pay cust (especially in the public sector) for a while now.

    |   -7
  • brochadav  |  November 17 2012, 11:44AM

    FAO arnoldlane, job and knock used to be a perk of certain jobs (eg postmen) now big companies expect you to work your hours so people work at the expected rate, the rate set down in their contracts, running around usually breaches H&S rules and is frowned upon by managers

    |   5
  • brochadav  |  November 17 2012, 11:41AM

    Tink, money for pay rises for the poorest could come from top earners taking less of the pie and profits being shared with workers rather than paying huge bonuses and dividends to shareholders. Shareholders are another part of the money problem as the vast majority of shares are owned by a tiny fraction of people. 80% of the shares of most companies are held by no more 4 or 5 people. It's still about the majority of us working hard for other people to live in the lap of luxury. Another point for intelligent1, you say you worked hard at school so don't have to work outdoors but some of the better off people I know have well paid outdoor jobs, well paid because they work hard. Hard work should have it's reward. Not everyone is academically capable and without people doing these "lesser" jobs then society would be in a right royal mess. Where would we be without bin men, street sweepers etc?

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  • bennyhill4  |  November 17 2012, 10:16AM

    arnoldlane, so are you suggesting that they should work slower doing the same amount of work just to use up their 37 hrs? I for one see nothing wrong in job and knock if the allocated work has been completed. It would appear the postmen are working slower since job and knock was abolished and i now get my mail at dinner time

    |   4
  • arnoldlane  |  November 17 2012, 9:48AM

    The binmen have had it to good for to long. Ask yourself why they are always running and in a rush as its job and knock, once the round is done so are they so they are not working 37 hours just paid 37 hours.

    |   -7