Spring clean ‘does dirty’ on workforce

Street cleaners are losing out on extra cash
Street cleaners are losing out on extra cash
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CITY street cleaners have spoken of their anger after learning that private contractors will be brought in to carry out work they were originally offered.

Staff were told they could earn extra cash by working 12 days of overtime on their days off in order to complete the Edinburgh Spring Clean by the end of March.

However, employees claim managers withdrew the offer two days later and found out 30 to 40 staff from the private facilities management firm Enterprise would be brought in instead.

The £500,000 Edinburgh Spring Clean initiative will see specialist equipment being used to clean up streets and rid areas of graffiti and discarded chewing gum, in two wards in the city centre and Leith areas.

The work must be carried out before an external inspection of street cleanliness takes place next month.

One council employee said: “The management put a notice up for 12 days’ overtime, which we had the option to work on our days off, but after two days they took it down and we found out Enterprise were going to be brought in.

“We actually had to find out from an agency worker rather than the management.

“The council is always on about saving money but surely it would be cheaper to pay us.”

The worker added: “The guys are thinking too much work is being handed over and the morale has really dropped because it would have boosted their wages.”

Late last year, Enterprise emerged as the preferred bidder to take over environmental services operation at the city council, but councillors voted against the move after the SNP sided with opposition parties instead of voting with the Liberal Democrats.

Another worker said: “The management team are now paying the same private contractor that councillors voted to reject, less than three months ago, to do this work.”

Union bosses at Unite demanded that private contractors must not be the “first port of call” and chosen over council employees.

Ian McDonald, regional officer at Unite, said: “I’m disappointed that our staff aren’t getting the opportunity to do the job they can do and do very well.

“They’ve been offered overtime that’s then been taken away from them, that’s taking cash away from our own employees. It’s not a very well- paid job so any extra money is welcomed. Private contractors should not be the first port of call for this council.”

Councillor Robert Aldridge, the city’s environment convener, insisted the move would lead to a better environment and pointed out the contracted staff will be temporary.

He said: “The Edinburgh Spring Clean will give us the opportunity to target some problem hot spots with extra trained staff drafted in on a temporary basis, through an existing contract.

“This money has been made available through careful financial management and will ensure that Leith and city centre residents, visitors and businesses will notice a real improvement quite quickly.”