Leeds & West Yorkshire

Kirklees Council: Refuse staff 'abused' in green bin row

Confiscated bins
Image caption Seized green bins are collected and stored at a recycling centre in Huddersfield

Bin workers claim they have received verbal abuse and threats over a council crackdown on recyclables.

Since 1 April, Kirklees Council has temporarily seized more than 1,300 green bins after people repeatedly binned the wrong items.

A staff member was assaulted by an angry Slaithwaite resident who removed a warning sticker from a bin and stuck it to their forehead, the council said.

Kirklees Council urged the public not to abuse staff.

A second incident saw a bin lorry blockaded in Rawthorpe, the BBC's Local Democracy Reporting Service reported.

Residents demanded bin workers emptied stickered green bins left behind on a previous collection, the council said.

The Unison union warned workers were being put in a "confrontational situation" likely to worsen in the coming months.

Kirklees' green bins

  • The council is trying to increase the district's 27% recycling rate, which is currently well below the national average of 45%.
  • Staff called "advisors" have accompanied bin collectors to check green bins, with bins containing the wrong type of rubbish receiving a yellow sticker.
  • After two warnings, bins may be taken away for six months.
  • Kirklees Council says the move has already been positive, with an additional 45-85 tonnes of waste recycled a week.
  • Items the council say cannot go in the green bins include yoghurt pots, margarine tubs, plastic trays and polystyrene, plastic carriers and film.

Paul Holmes, Kirklees Unison branch secretary, said: "We've had verbal abuse, swearing, threats of violence.

"One of the advisors has been assaulted already, someone stuck a yellow sticker on her head. The police were involved and we had a wagon blockaded two weeks ago."

Mr Holmes says 12 advisors are currently partnering with bin crews on their rounds at present, but this was due to change.

Image caption Green bins left unemptied are given a yellow sticker explaining why the decision was made

"It's a confrontational situation that workers don't want to be in, it will only get worse in two months' time when the advisors disappear," he said.

"Then it will be the bin workers doing the stickers and they'll have to try and defuse it."

Councillor Naheed Mather, the council's Cabinet Member for Communities and Environment, confirmed the two "disgraceful and unacceptable" incidents had been reported to the council.

"Our hardworking bin operatives and advisors are just trying to do their job and I urge residents to please allow them to do so without abuse," she said.

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