Warning of possible disruption from waste strikes

SOMERSET Council is asking for patience as the county faces major disruption to its waste collections if strikes go ahead next week.

Industrial action by members of the Unite union is due to start on Wednesday, July 12, with strikes on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday each week for the four weeks from Wednesday, July 12, to Friday, August 4.

The council and its collections contractor Suez UK will redeploy staff to try and limit the disruption but expect that many missed collections of recycling, refuse and garden waste will be unavoidable.

Talks continue in the ongoing pay dispute between the union and Suez and industrial action could be called off as late as the afternoon of Tuesday, July 11.

But the council is contingency planning on the basis that it goes ahead as planned.

A dedicated web page www.somerset.gov.uk/strike will have the latest updates on strike action and advice on how to manage when collections are missed.

This includes making the most of space in boxes and bags, and how to cope if having to store food waste for prolonged periods.

Collections of refuse, clinical waste, and waste from communal properties and schools will be prioritised but this is no guarantee they will take place on time.

Recycling is more likely to be missed as staff are redeployed, though the council says it will do its best to make sure everyone gets at least one recycling collection during the strike.

Residents are asked to:

• Put waste out on the usual day but expect missed collections.

• Put it out before 7am, even if your collection is usually later.

• If recycling or garden waste is missed, bring it back in until your next collection day. Don’t report it.

• If refuse or clinical is missed, leave it out and report it as missed, online if possible.

From July 17 onwards crews will accept one additional black sack of refuse at the side of the bin.

Extra recycling will also be accepted, if presented as below:

• Plastics and cans in an open bag, like a bag for life, or a carboard box.

• Glass needs to stay in your recycling box.

• Cardboard folded and placed next to your recycling box (but kept to a minimum).

• Food waste must stay in your food waste bin, but as a last resort can be double-bag and put it in your refuse bin.

There will be extra possible collection days for people whose recycling is missed in the first week of the strike:

• If recycling is missed on Wednesday, July 12, put it out again on Monday, July 17.

• If recycling is missed on Thursday, July 13, put it out again on Tuesday, July 18.

• If recycling is missed on Friday, July 14 and Friday, July 21, put it out again on Monday, July 24.

All 16 of Somerset’s recycling sites will be open as usual and can take almost all the materials collected at the kerbside, as well as refuse as a last resort.

Mickey Green, Somerset Council’s Executive Director for Climate and Place, said: “If these strikes go ahead, major disruption and inconvenience is unavoidable.

“We’ll do what we can to manage it, but if the staff aren’t available you simply can’t get the waste off the ground.

“This could be a very difficult period and would ask for the public’s patience. We are far from the only area experiencing this kind of issue, but that won’t make a Somerset strike any less difficult for its residents.”