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Union fury after council boss calls bin workers 'w*****s' in meeting

Unacceptable language seen as 'symbolic of prevailing problems' at Huddersfield waste depot

Kirklees Council binmen on a round in Mirfield. Photo: Dave Howarth

A row between bin workers and management appears to have hit a new low after a team leader is said to have referred to binmen as “w*****s.”

Kirklees Council’s Huddersfield-based bin crews have been locked in a dispute with management for weeks.

There have been missed collections, accusations of a wildcat strike, allegations that older staff are being unfairly targeted and claims that new rules were being introduced without proper consultation.

Now the stand-off has escalated further, with union officials describing as ”unacceptable” language used in a meeting at the Vine Street depot.

Furthermore senior managers have been sharply criticised for failing to handle the matter at the time.

UNISON Kirklees, Branch Secretary Paul Holmes.

In a letter dated December 11, 2017 – and seen by the Examiner – Paul Holmes, branch secretary of Kirklees Unison, says the tone of the team leader’s language and the failure of senior staff to curb the deteriorating relationship with workers is “symbolic of the prevailing problems at Vine Street.”

He wrote: “Unison raised with management the issue that some of the bin rounds were not ‘do-able.’

“A team leader from Vine Street responded that ‘they were do-able, it’s just them w*****s (the drivers/operators) weren’t doing them.’

“This is not acceptable language either in terms of trade union negotiations or under the council’s Dignity at Work Policy and Procedure.

“What is even more disappointing is that the senior management present at the meeting never castigated the team leader nor apologised for his language/attitude.”

A letter sent by Paul Holmes, branch secretary of Kirklees Unison, which claims that a Kirklees Council team leader called bin crews "w*****s" in a meeting.

Workers were urged to attend last month’s joint Unite/Unison meeting, which was called to discuss “ongoing problems” at the Vine Street depot.

A poster encouraging union members to attend read: “No change can happen when people fail to speak out or demonstrate against bad working conditions. It becomes the acceptable norm to become downtrodden. Don’t let this happen.”

One worker, who asked to remain anonymous, claimed the service was being run “on fear and intimidation.” He denied that workers or union members were militant but instead were “honest, hard-working men ... getting blamed for trying to do their job properly.”

A Kirklees Council spokesperson said: “The council takes all claims of bullying seriously and has recognised procedures we go through to ensure that these are dealt with in a consistent and fair manner.

“We are aware of the union’s letter regarding a historical complaint, which was investigated and dealt with some years ago, in line with these official procedures.”

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