Angus Council refuse workers started five days of industrial action yesterday in a dispute over changes to working hours.
More than 90% of Unite the Union members voted in favour of holding a series of strikes between now and the end of June after the local authority introduced changes to terms and conditions.
Unite claims the changes put staff and members of the public at risk by having large lorries conducting pick-ups as late as 10pm.
Communities convener Mark Salmond hit back at the union, calling strike action “regrettable”.
George Ramsay, Unite regional industrial officer, said: “The support we have had from members and the public has been positive. I think the public appreciates the risk of having 14-tonne lorries out collecting waste late at night and the risk it involves.
“We have 40 workers on our picket in Forfar this morning and the same in Arbroath.
“We still hope Angus Council can get back round the table.”
Mr Salmond said: “We understand the change to shift patterns presents a significant challenge to staff.
“However, we have to save more than £40 million over the next three years.
“This change involves no job losses, no reduction to the service and saves £160,000 per year, as well as removing approximately £2m worth of vehicles from our fleet.
“It is a major change for our dedicated staff, but we have consulted with them throughout and have given them more than 12 months to prepare for these changes coming in.
“They will also receive an additional payment for working unsocial hours.
“There are other councils that successfully operate this shift pattern and we have consulted with them extensively regarding concerns over health and safety and vehicular access.
“These aspects have all been thoroughly considered and the routes have been tested at the appropriate times of day, so we’re confident that this new system will work well.”