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Rubbish collections begin as threat of new strikes hang over Southampton
STRIKING bin men and street cleaners returned to work in Southampton today to begin clearing litter and rubbish blighting the city’s streets.
But frustrated residents face yet more misery as further strikes could be announced later today for next week.
Council leaders hope the breather in a bitter industrial dispute over pay cuts will give crews time to clear the backlog of rubbish spilling on to the streets.
Face-to-face talks between council and union leaders could resume as early as tomorrow after a three-hour session on Friday broke-up without agreement.
But two months of industrial action by up to 2,400 council workers is continuing and social workers are among staff ready to wal kout from Monday next week in a fresh wave of strikes.
Contractors hired by the council to pick up bags of festering rubbish continued to work over the weekend.
Up to ten hired trucks have been working the streets while bin men have been on strike.
Council leader Royston Smith said they would continue to be used next week as bin men catch up with rounds to get collections “somewhere near normal”.
Volunteer residents have also been sweeping streets and taking rubbish to the tip themselves.
Talks through the mediation service ACAS aimed at resolving the industrial dispute ended in stalemate three weeks ago.
Around 4,300 council workers last week signed new contracts under threat of dismissal, cutting their pay and conditions.
Unions have vowed to continue a campaign of industrial action to restore the pay cuts of between two and 5.5 per cent unless they can reach a negotiated deal with the council.
The council says the pay cuts will save 400 jobs. Other councils such as Shropshire are now following Southampton’s lead.