Agency drivers slam council over staff shortage

Bin lorry and minibus drivers are angry at staffing levels. Picture: Scott Taylor
Bin lorry and minibus drivers are angry at staffing levels. Picture: Scott Taylor
0
Have your say

Overworked bin lorry and minibus drivers have hit out at the council over their conditions, claiming staffing levels are forcing them to work excessively long hours.

Drivers from the two services – which draw on separate pools of staff – say there aren’t enough workers to cover sickness and holiday absences, leaving services overstretched and understaffed.

Council officials say they have reduced the number of agency staff driving bin lorries in the past six months to just seven, but drivers told the Evening News that remaining agency workers were given longer hours than full-time employees.

The comments follow a near-miss in January when an agency driver fell asleep behind the wheel of a bin lorry and swerved across Lanark Road.

One driver, who works on the city’s social care fleet driving special school pupils and care home residents, claimed transport chiefs had failed to honour a promise to make staff full-time.

Speaking anonymously, the driver said: “There aren’t enough staff to cover holidays or sick leave, but we get told to do the same jobs anyway.

“Three-quarters of the drivers are agency staff. We were promised that they would be made full-time in 2011, but it keeps being put 
back.

“The service is absolutely being run into the ground.”

And an agency driver who worked on council bin lorries last year claimed he was regularly asked to report for work at 5am even after finishing his previous shift at 
midnight.

He added: “The council work the hell out of the agency staff.”

Union Unite, which represents many bin lorry drivers, said it would be looking into conditions for other council drivers.

A spokesman said: “A directly employed, fully resourced and fully trained workforce is the best way to deliver the highest standards of health and safety and service delivery.

“The council should be working with us to achieve this rather than increasing the numbers of workers on cheap, precarious contracts of employment, which can only drive standards 
down.”

A council spokeswoman said that all drivers were fully trained and had their qualifications properly checked, and added that the number of agency bin lorry drivers had been slashed to just seven over the past six 
months.

She said: “The council ensures drivers work within EU driving hours and monitors driving activity daily to ensure staff do not breach EU driver regulations.

“While the majority of agency drivers in passenger operations are long-serving, it is still our intention to increase the number of permanent positions in the 
area.”

paris.gourtsoyannis@edinburghnews.com