Dundee is heading for a “summer of discontent” with public services suffering all season long – unless councillors intervene next week.
Bins will overflow for two weeks from July 1 under plans by Unite workers to strike over the council’s new Managing Workforce Change policy, which could see jobs cut.
More than 500 workers in construction and environmental services are set to walk out after a majority of Unite workers agreed to industrial action.
The action will mean the Baldovie and Riverside recycling centres are unlikely to open and bins will likely go unemptied.
Yesterday, 91% of Leisure and Culture Dundee members agreed to strike action ahead of the same policy being imposed upon them, with a date for action yet to be set.
Dundee City Council offered to suspend the new policy in order to engage in discussions – but union bosses want it taken off the table altogether.
Labour group leader Kevin Keenan has tabled a motion for a meeting of the council’s policy and resources committee on Monday to ensure there will be no compulsory job losses.
But if Mr Keenan’s motion fails to pass, workers say they will have no option but to strike.
George Barr, Unite convener in Dundee, said: “This is the last chance saloon. We have tried to talk to the management but suspending the policy is nowhere near enough, because they can just bring it back anytime.
“It cannot just be suspended – it has to be rescinded. If they bring us to the table we can find a common ground of what is and what isn’t acceptable.”
Dundee City Council says the Managing Workforce Change policy is a response to an ever-dwindling workforce budget.
It was approved at council in February by a margin of 15-13 – reportedly without union consultation – and opens the door to imposing compulsory redundancies “if no alternative” option is found in the event of funding for roles drying up.
It marks a change in tactics for the SNP administration, which has proudly boasted of its no compulsory redundancies policy in the previous years.
While discussing budget arrangements in 2017, council finance spokesman Willie Sawers said: “Our budget…retains our policy of no compulsory redundancies.”
However, council leader John Alexander said in February the authority had never formally adopted the stance.
Unions say a failure by the council to listen will only result in greater disruption.
However, Mr Barr hopes the issues caused by a lack of waste management – from no one sweeping the streets to bins overflowing – will be impetus enough for the council to act.
In the meantime, workers in other departments of the council are being balloted on whether to stage similar strikes.
The outcome of those ballots could hang on Monday’s vote – or the council’s executive giving the unions assurances about the policy’s future.
Mr Barr added: “Hopefully the council will see sense before July 1 and rescind the policy and Leisure and Culture will follow after them.
“If they take compulsory redundancies off of the table then that suits us.
“If they want to talk about other things like flexible retirement, we’re saying: ‘let’s talk’.”
Dundee City Council said: “We have continued to engage with trade unions over the last few months and hope that they are willing to come to an agreement on a pragmatic way forward.”