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Brighton and Hove taxpayers saddled with £100,000 bill from bin strike
Taxpayers have been saddled with a bill of nearly £100,000 after bin crews refused to work during a pay dispute.
Proposals to revamp Brighton and Hove City Council’s allowances system sparked unofficial industrial action for five weeks by Cityclean staff.
Waste was left strewn across the city’s streets as staff refused to work for two days and then “worked to rule” for a month.
The council was forced to bring in agency workers to help manage the waste.
Cityclean bosses have now revealed the cost of agency staff between May 8 and the start of a week-long strike on June 14 was £92,527.60.
This is in comparison to its average 28-day spend of £52,000 – equating to £1.4 million a year.
No agency work was commissioned by the council during the official strike.
The revelation comes as a ballot result is due today on whether Cityclean staff strike for a second time or accept the council’s latest offer.
Conservative councillor Geoffrey Theobald said: “This seems a very high price to pay for what was unofficial strike action.
“Even paying this substantial extra sum there were still an awful lot of missed collections and some residents didn’t get any recycling collection, hence there was still a considerable backlog before the official strike started.”
The amount was revealed by Green councillor Leo Littman in response to a question from Coun Theobald at a town hall meeting.
The issue stems back to the council’s proposal to create a new “fair, consistent and affordable” allowance system earlier this year.
Union leaders claimed the plans would see some of their workers lose up to £4,000 a year.
After six days of official strike action in June the council made a revised offer to the union – which would include Cityclean staff working bank holidays with the exception of Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day and longer hours for street sweepers.
Voting on the revised offer by members will close at noon today, with the result expected shortly after.
Mark Turner, of the GMB, yesterday said the result would be hard to predict.
If the council offer is turned down workers could go back out on strike as early as next Friday.
In a letter to councillors, the authority’s chief executive Penny Thompson said she was “hopeful” the new terms could be agreed.
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