Taskforce needed to examine waste industry ‘snakepit’ as Greyhound dispute worsens

Minister had hoped Greyhound issue could have been resolved through ‘conciliation machinery of the State’

Joan Collins: said there were serious health and safety concerns regarding the employment of casual staff without proper training

Joan Collins: said there were serious health and safety concerns regarding the employment of casual staff without proper training

Fri, Jul 4, 2014, 01:00

A taskforce should be established to examine the waste collection industry in light of the ongoing dispute at the Greyhound premises where, an Independent TD claimed, “scab labour” was being employed.

Dublin South Central TD Joan Collins, who made the call, said there was an official lock-out of 70 workers at the Greyhound depot in Clondalkin in a bitter dispute over unilateral pay cuts of 30 per cent.

Describing the waste industry as a “snake pit” due to its treatment of workers, she said casual workers were being given 15 minutes of training and then sent out on the routes, with collections taking place as late as 1am.

Ms Collins said the Taoiseach had facilitated a meeting on Monday between the National Employment Rights Association (Nera) and workers’ representatives, who alleged zero maintenance of the fleet of bin trucks.

‘Illegal dumping’

She also said there were serious health and safety concerns regarding the employment of casual staff without proper training in safety procedures and the use of protective clothing.

Ms Collins said in one incident a protester had been knocked down and injured outside the premises.

Calling on the Government to set up a taskforce from the environment committee with an independent chair, she said “there is a race to the bottom among the various waste companies which can only lead to an increased casualisation of the workforce, minimum wage rates, poor training on health and safety procedures, dangerous vehicles operating in built-up areas and outsourcing of routes”.

She said “the local authorities have effectively washed their hands of the service and there is no effective oversight and regulation of a private waste collection sector that has a deplorable record of illegal dumping and breaking environmental regulations”.

Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte agreed with Ms Collins that it was a “tough industry”. He had hoped the Greyhound issue could have been resolved through the “conciliation machinery of the State”.

Not desirable

Taking Leaders Questions in the Dáil for Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore, the Minister said he had not seen a report from Nera in the wake of Monday’s meeting but would like to see what conclusions it had come to.

He agreed it was not desirable for workers to be required to work in the circumstances Ms Collins described.

“I preferred the situation where refuse was collected by direct labour in the local authorities.”