Forget red tape – Hove resident challenges binmen’s yellow tape

Posted On 10 Nov 2013 at 6:43 pm

A Hove resident has sent out a circular saying that binmen were “making enemies of those who should be their natural allies” since their rounds were reorganised last month.

As a lifelong active trade unionist he disputed claims that they could be working to rule and said that he had supported them during their strike earlier this year.

Bob Potter, of Addison Road, Hove, said: “Three weeks ago, recyclers emptied our box but left the glass bottles placed alongside.

“The following week, refuse collectors walked by our small bag of refuse, appropriately placed next to the pavement.

“And finally last Thursday (7 November) following recycling collection in Addison Road, we were surprised and disappointed to note our box had not been emptied.

“Instead a lengthy yellow tape had been attached, alleging we had not complied with council specifications.

“As we had positioned the box in exactly the same place as we have for several years, and the glass contents were kept separate from other items, we couldn’t imagine what we might have done wrong.

“An hour or so later, walking the length of the road and other roads leading towards the Seven Dials, en route to the Brighton Station, I noticed at least 30 neighbours had received similar treatment.

“I took a look into several of the ‘faulty’ boxes but could see no cause for complaint.

“Neighbours with whom I spoke were very irritated, often angry.

“I emailed Jason Kitcat as a matter of great concern, requesting immediate investigation of the complaint.

“I know it’s the done thing these days to complain about the Green administration but I certainly have no complaint on the council’s response.

“Early the following morning (that’s Friday 8 November) the council’s collecting operations manager was ringing our doorbell.

“He looked at our recycling box. Then we walked along Addison Road and three other roads (Osmond, Granville, and Melville) each of whom were served by the same recycling team as had ours.

“In total, we examined approximately 30 other boxes bearing the yellow bands.

“The operations manager confirmed with me that not a single one of these boxes had violated the council’s guidelines in any way.

“In my presence, he telephoned through to the appropriate team supervisor, insisting all these boxes be emptied immediately – confirming not one of them was in the wrong place nor had any mixed contents.

“Whatever is happening within the recycling teams, it cannot be described as working to rule.

“I write as someone who was an active trade unionist for my entire working life.

“I first joined a trade union in the 1950s – when I’d newly arrived in the UK (from Australia) and worked on London’s buses.

“I was an active member of the strike committee during the lengthy London bus strike, at the time authoring and/or editing three pamphlets, one of which sold more than 35,000 copies during the strike.

“I have always believed that the ‘work to rule’ is one of the most powerful weapons trade unionists possess.

“The ‘rules’ of any enterprise are generally drawn up by management as an instrument partly designed to keep the workers in their place.

“If the workers in any enterprise literally ‘worked to rule’, production processes would grind to a halt.

“Things keep going because rules are not followed to the letter, rather, in general, there is a healthy give and take atmosphere between employer and employee.

“There is certainly no rule justifying sticking a yellow label on an unopened or faultless box.

“In the eight houses adjoining ours, five of them, with the contents exactly as specified by the rules, were left by the recycling team, unemptied!

“Whatever the reason may have been, it certainly had nothing to do with working to rule.

“During recent months, when Brighton refuse collectors have been in dispute, I have several times posted letters/comments on the Argus and other local forums supporting the binmen in their struggles to maintain working standards and for a decent living wage.

“I’m sure the majority of the local community have views similar to mine.

“The really great tragedy regarding the current inexcusable behaviour of (perhaps just a handful of) members of recycling teams is they are making enemies of those who should be their natural allies – the individual residents/householders of the local community.”

Brighton and Hove City Council updated the Cityclean page on its website on Friday with a list of dozens of roads which had been missed during the rubbish and recycling collection rounds.

The council said that changes to collection days had taken place to improve efficiency with collections now taking place on bank holidays except for Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.

The council added: “If you have not had a collection on your scheduled day please leave your recycling or rubbish out and we will collect the extra rubbish on your next collection day.

“Thank you for your patience … Our customer service team are experiencing a high volume of calls and emails so please bear with us while these changes take place.”

Conservative councillor Graham Cox has also written about the topic on his blog. He said: “Inevitably during a reorganisation of this magnitude some roads have experienced a delay to their collection.

“Online reports to request street cleaning services or request new bins or boxes are currently unavailable.

“We have found that the contact centre is currently experiencing a high volume of calls and emails due to these service changes and the problems which have arisen.

“You will eventually get an answer but you need to be patient I’m afraid.”

  1. John Reply

    The council worker responsible for this act ought to be reprimanded and given a formal warning, if not let go immediately. It is quite clear that laziness on the part of the collection worker(s) is what brought this about.
    As if there were not a job crisis in this country, some overpaid layabouts feel they can pull a fast one by circumventing their occupational duties, thereby making it to the pub quicker, where they can brag to their dropout mates about how clever they are.
    Get rid of them, and give the job to some appreciative foreign workers who know what labour is.

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