Brighton and Hove City Council has responded to the threat of a bin strike by GMB members who drive refuse and recycling lorries.
A consultative ballot by the union found that 98 per cent of drivers who belonged to the union – or 5 out of 53 – favoured taking action in a dispute with the council.
A formal strike ballot will now be held with the possibility of a strike next month adding to the challenges facing Cityclean, the council’s rubbish and recycling service.
The council said: “We want to thank our very hardworking Cityclean staff for working tirelessly throughout the pandemic to ensure our streets and city have remained as clean and tidy as possible.
“With many of our drivers and crew having caught covid-19 or been forced to self-isolate, the staffing situation has changed on an almost daily basis.
“We haven’t been able to supplement the shortage of staff with agency staff as normal as they are also experiencing the difficulties of covid and self-isolation.
“Our managers have therefore had to ask all Cityclean staff to work flexibly to make sure our residents and customers receive the best possible service.
“This has meant having to change crew members around when needed, move them on to different collection rounds at short notice, ask crews to collect work that wasn’t collected by other crews and generally adapt to the changing and very challenging situation.”
The council added: “We fully understand the impact covid and lockdown have and still are having on our staff and Cityclean managers have been as supportive to staff as possible while also dealing with their own covid issues.
“We are having difficulties with some of our lorries but this is mainly due to struggling to get much-needed parts due to Brexit.
“However, we are carrying out huge investment in our fleet which will see these issues resolved in the near future, including a new all-electric refuse vehicle in mid-September.
“We are fully committed to working with the GMB, as we have done throughout lockdown, so it’s therefore regrettable the GMB is balloting its members on possible industrial action at this time.”