Belfast Telegraph

Bin collection to be privatised by Northern Ireland council - fears over 50 jobs

By Michelle Weir

Bin collections in part of Northern Ireland are set be privatised in a move that could see the loss of 50 jobs, it has been claimed.

The GMB union said Antrim and Newtownabbey councillors voted behind closed doors on Monday night to outsource brown bin collections in Antrim and black bin collections in Newtownabbey.

It is concerned for the future of the service and for members' jobs, with "many if not all" living within the borough.

The union said the move was a "clear example of the council attempting to make so-called savings by outsourcing a public service and doing away with jobs".

It also claimed the council "failed to provide the cost of other options being considered".

Alan Perry, GMB regional organiser, said: "We were due to meet with senior management on Thursday, for the first time in a while, to discuss the possibility of re-engaging again on collective issues.

"But Monday's secretive decision has cast a dark cloud over the discussions. We are concerned for our members' jobs and the rest of the service, both now and for the long term.

"While the council officers won't give any commitment that other services will not be affected, it is clear that this council and its elected representatives are putting savings before jobs."

The council, however, said the decision would "ensure high standards of high service and further efficiency savings", which it estimates to be more than £400,000 annually. A spokesperson for Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council added: "Customers will continue to receive a quality service and will benefit from the savings. Understandably there have been some questions about these changes, which includes whether bin collection days will be affected and if there will be further charging for bin collection services.

"Our customers are assured that there will be no change to bin collection days and no additional charges will apply. This decision will allow waste staff who have requested severance to leave the organisation."

The council insisted the decision would "secure the jobs of remaining waste staff and at the same time deliver more operational savings for ratepayers".

It pointed out that a "lengthy consultation" took place with unions during which "their opposition to outsourcing was restated".

Belfast Telegraph

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