Cityclean staff have refused to go out on rounds this morning because they say bin lorries are not being deep cleaned regularly enough.
Crews are currently in the Hollingdean depot canteen while council officers negotiate with the GMB union, which represents most of the refuse workers.
The GMB says staff, particularly those who were shielding during the first lockdown but who are still at work in the second, are worried about the impact of covid-contaminated rubbish.
Brighton and Hove City Council says its cleaning complies with waste industry guidelines, but wants to resolve the issue as soon as possible.
However, binmen were told this morning the lorries might not be cleaned in time for tomorrow’s rounds.
GMB regional organiser Gary Palmer said: Under section 4 of the Health and Safety at Work Act, we have genuine concerns about the staff and the cleanliness of vehicles.
“Employees are refusing to go until they’ve been cleaned.
“Drivers are trying to keep the cabs as clean as they can with wipes. But the backs of the vehicles and all that equipment could be contaminated from waste like tissues from households with covid positive residents.
“Considering this time that people aren’t shielding as they were during the first lockdown, staff are asking for a proper programme of cleaning for the vehicles is put in, as is required.
“The council’s not listening to them and this morning it’s come to a head.
“Last Monday, the council was warned that there is a huge groundswell of feeling and staff were very upset and concerned.
“This morning, they have refused under the Health and Safety At Work Act to use the vehicles.
“And while the council has been spending time chasing me to report a wildcat strike action this morning, it hasn’t started to clean one vehicle.”
A council spokesperson said: “We’re aware that Cityclean crews have not started any collections today due to concerns about whether vehicles are adequately deep cleaned following them being in the workshop for repairs.
“The health, wellbeing and safety of staff is our top priority.
“Our cleaning and work arrangements are in line with the Waste Industry Safety and Health forum guidelines, however we’re keen to understand our colleagues’ concerns so as to resolve them as quickly as possible.
“We apologise for any inconvenience and assure residents we’re doing all we can to understand the concerns of staff so collections can be started.”
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