Dublin City Council may privatise bin collection

 

THE PRIVATISATION of Dublin City Council’s bin collection service, which has been in operation for 150 years, is under consideration by the council’s management.

The council has entered into discussions with Siptu, the union representing the 101 bin men, in relation to the future of the service which is losing the council about €10 million every year.

A spokesman for the union stressed that no decision had yet been taken, but the council had said it could no longer sustain the annual losses incurred in running the service.

“What they have said to us is that with the current austerity programme and the cuts they have to make they can no longer afford to subsidise bin collections,” a Siptu spokesman said.

The union remained opposed to the privatisation of collections which were an essential public service, he said, and could be made financially sustainable.

“We don’t accept the figures being presented by the council. They are coming to the conclusion that it is impossible to turn the service around.”

The union has insisted that there be an independent evaluation of the viability of the service, he said. The council agreed to the evaluation and Ampersand Consulting has been commissioned to undertake the review.

The same firm was commissioned earlier this year to review the collection service in Fingal County Council. Following its report, county manager David O’Connor decided to withdraw from the waste collection market at the end of this year.

The Fingal decision left the city council as the only Dublin local authority still collecting bins, with the service already run by private waste companies in Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown and South Dublin.

Private companies have accused the city council of only remaining in the market so that it will be able to control a waste stream for the Poolbeg incinerator.

The council in 2007 tried to introduce waste management regulations which would allow it to stop collecting bins but keep control of the waste market by putting contracts for bin collection, which could specify the end destination of the rubbish, out to tender.

High Court action taken by waste firms Panda and Greenstar stopped the council gaining this control. The council is appealing the court’s decision, but this appeal may be superseded by new legislation proposed by Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan which would allow the council to go ahead with its tendering plans. It is thought that the council’s discussions with Siptu are in preparation for this legislation.

The council said it was not in a position to comment on the talks with the union.

The Siptu spokesman said it would have further discussions with the city council management but it remained opposed to outsourcing of the service.

“We want to stay in the bin-lifting industry, we’ve been doing it for 150 years,” he said.