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Low-paid Swansea Council workers hit back at binmen in row over pay cuts

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: November 22, 2012

Binmen working on the streets of Swansea could see their pay cut by up to £90 a week as a result of the council’s new single pay structure

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LOW-PAID care workers and catering staff have hit back at binmen who complained they could lose £4,400 a year in changes to their terms and conditions.

Swansea Council is bringing its whole workforce into line, creating one pay structure.

Binmen, who are set to lose thousands of pounds every year, say they face selling their homes and taking on second jobs to make ends meet.

It is because they have been put on the same pay grade as the likes of care workers and dinner ladies — who will see their salaries go up.

But an anonymous member of the council’s catering staff said she was disgusted at the comments made in last Friday’s edition of the Evening Post, adding: “I have been a council worker for more than 20 years and find what was said disgusting.

‘‘We are one of the lowest-paid section of the council with cleaning and carers.

“How the binmen say they will lose £90 a week is beyond me, they must be on a far greater wage to be able to have this taken from them. They are getting bonus and shift allowances.

“Catering and cleaning do not get bonuses and we may not work outside but have times to adhere to to make sure food is on time. Also we have to make sure food hygiene regulations are met and health and safety standards. There is a lot of responsibility that comes with being a catering worker.

“We have been on such a low wage for years, while other sections have been reaping the benefits and now they have to take a pay cut they do not like it. How would they feel if they were on our pay grading and had been for years?”

A former care worker, who said she sympathised with binmen, backed the pay increase for support staff.

“I would like to speak out on behalf of the community carers,” she said.

“As a former home carer for over 20 years, I along with many others walked the streets in all weathers to get to our vulnerable clients so that they received the care they needed.

“The only thing that kept us going while trudging through snow, or getting a soaking from the rain, was the appreciation of the clients. It certainly wasn’t the pay, no bonuses for us and an hourly rate not much more than the minimum wage.

“It’s about time the council brought a decent rate of pay in for all those carers who do a brilliant job and have for too long been the poor relations of the council family.”

However, the binmen have also been supported.

Writing on the Evening Post’s website, brochadav said: “My binmen are always helpful, friendly and polite. Every Christmas I reward their efforts with a present, our postman too. People have forgotten how to be grateful for the efforts others put in.

“A pay cut is one thing, but putting their homes at risk is awful. Any of us are only a bit of bad luck away from financial disaster. I’ve seen it.”

And 123sandy456 said: “I really can’t believe that the bin workers are having their wages cut. In the past I have worked as a cleaner, dinner lady etc who also deserve good, fair pay. But could I do a job of a bin worker? No way. That’s why in the past the bonus was paid to this group acknowledging the work and conditions.”

Swansea Council said it was legally bound to create the new single pay structure. It has now made its best and final offer to trades unions and officers are waiting for responses.

A spokesman said: “Under single status eight out of ten 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 reskilled or whether their jobs can be made more responsible so that any loss is lessened or negated.”

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  • tellyon  |  November 25 2012, 7:52PM

    Workers need to stick together and help each other. The bosses want us to fight. The super-rich only laugh at us, they sit back laughing at us being fools as the cash rolls in for them. Immigration is not the cause of the problem, the problem is EXPLOITATION. If we need more jobs, if we need more homes, then we should stop giving all the wealth that workers create to the super-rich. We should spend that money on building those homes and creating those jobs. If we go down the route of blaming immigration we will only end up hurting ourselves. Making the population smaller doesn't mean there will be more jobs left behind, it just takes demand out of the economy. The problem is how the rich bosses take advantage of the migrant workers and can get away with paying them less. They use them to push down wages and to divide and rule. Working people of whatever race or colour must not fight with each other in a race to the bottom. The ONLY answer is for ALL workers to unite. Fight together to get better pay and conditions for ALL workers. Pay ALL workers the same decent going rate for the job, trade union terms and conditions from day one of employment. If the bosses are not allowed to exploit overseas workers then jobs will be shared fairly. It isn't immigration that is the problem, it is the EXPLOITATION of immigrant workers. Stop the exploitation and the jobs created by immigration will be shared by all. Take the weapon of division and 'competition' out of the hands of the bosses.

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  • Hadoken845111  |  November 25 2012, 4:59PM

    Guys no offence, but if you medial work you will get treated badly all your life cos they know they can always replace you, and with a country full of immigrants who are happy to work for peanuts, cos they send the money home and are used to a lower standard of living its only gonna get worse. I cant think of many things more important than clearing the rubbish, imagine the implications if it were left for a few months, it would be horrible. But still these guys get treated like the rubbish they clear cos they know they will always find them and most of them dont have many other options. you are better of working at amazon.

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  • Gwyddno  |  November 25 2012, 4:27PM

    intelligent1 Given the choice of working in a canteen or working outside in all weather conditions collecting household and commercial waste, nearly everyone would choose the former and hardly anyone would choose the latter if the pay was the same. So, how do you get people to do the dirty job? I couldn't care less what a bunch geeks at the R Swyppes thinktank declare, the work that a refuse collection worker does is not the same as that of a school meals assistant.

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  • intelligent1  |  November 25 2012, 3:51PM

    Dooyah, not at the bottom of a pay scale, everyone has the right to be at a point in a payscale which reflects the effert they put into the job. Its just that they should be on a payscale which is equivalent to others who do a job assessed as similar. If this does not happen then it cannot be fair. The only way to do this is to reduce the pay of bin men so that it equates to carers etc so that they are all paid in a fair manner. The fact that bin men are now paid more only reflects their previous actions including strikes etc which have pushed their pay above other secrors who have not taken similar action. How can it be right to pay these more than other who undertake a similar job?

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  • Dooyah  |  November 25 2012, 2:03PM

    intelligent1 In this thread you've stated time after time that you want rubbish collectors bonuses and overtime removed so that they're on the same pay as canteen assistants. Now, you seem to be incorrectly criticising another commenter for wanting equal pay for all irrespective of the type of work done. gengis hasn't asked for what you think he wants. Quote: 'bin men, cleaners, carers and many other "menial" workers need proper pay increases - not pay cuts.' - gengis. Friday, November 23 2012, 7:34PM If anything, it's you who longs for everyone to be at the bottom of the payscale.

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  • intelligent1  |  November 25 2012, 1:07PM

    gengis, the carers, caterers etc are not complaining about their wages, as noted by one person on this comment thread, they have never complained or striked. They are only complaining because the bin men have been paid MORE than them for a number of years and that is the reason they are unhappy. You have no idea what my financial situation is so I would appreciate it if you did not comment on something you know nothing about. If I do have plenty of money it is only as a result of saving for the future as no one knows what the future holds. Unfortunately not everyone is able to do this I know but then everyone seems to expect the same standards in life whatever their situation is and is prepared to spend everything now with no consideration for the future - this never used to happen years ago. People used to live on what they had. I get the feeling you would only be happy in a communist country where everyone is paid the same no matter what their occupation is. Perhaps you should **** off to Cuba

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  • gengis  |  November 24 2012, 11:27AM

    inteligent1.., Who are these " Large number of highly skilled (a misnomer as obvious as calling oneself "intelligent" when one is plainly anything but) individuals who are not in it for themselves but mearly[sic] to ensure that individuals are paid equally for the same responsibility" you talk about and who pays their wages (on, according to you, earning in the region of £26k pa)? I am sure a binman,cleaner, catering assistant or carer could watch any word presentation or speech by a Gideon Osborne-type and do an equally inept job at deciding how to pay people who do menial jobs menial wages. As this article shows, it is not only the binmen who are annoyed about wages but carers and catering workers too.., and if you were to ask other "lowly" workers you would find that by and large they are also unhappy with their salaries. Judging from your highfaluting and superior attitude I would say you have more money than sense...intelligent1

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  • intelligent1  |  November 23 2012, 10:58PM

    confused67 £8 an hour would equate to around £15k a year the average bin man is on much more than that so are paid well above the actual minimum wage and the wage you suggets should be the minimum so I am not sure what your point is a minimum wage of £8 would make no difference to tehm as they are already paid well above it!!

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  • intelligent1  |  November 23 2012, 10:54PM

    gengis you can say whatever you want but the facts are that now they will be paid at a rate which is comparable to people doing a job which is assessed as being of equal value. You dont see the care workers, canteen worked etc complaining though do you even though they have always been paid at this lower rate. The only ones you see complaining are the bin men who have been overpaid. It is not just manual workers who are being assessed in this way mind - it is throughout local authorities but, yet again, you dont see any other category of employee complaining -finance staff, social workers etc have all been treated in the same way - only the bin men are complaining. If your really not concered about the job evaluators (who you consider are highly paid) but probably no more than bin men mind considering that after overtime etc they can earn in excess of £26k a year, then why don't u stop commenting on this post

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  • gengis  |  November 23 2012, 7:34PM

    intelligent1.., I'm really not concerned what some "highly skilled (and highly paid no doubt) job evaluator brought in from some external company" thinks is a fair wage, I'm too busy trying to make ends meet, pay the bills and hope there's enough left over to make me and my family's xmas bearable. They (like you) really seem to have no idea what it's like being a low wage earner The point is,that bin men, cleaners, carers and many other "menial" workers need proper pay increases - not pay cuts. .

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