Suez has offered collection workers in Doncaster an enhanced voluntary redundancy package and pledged not to press ahead with compulsory redundancies, as the Unite union calls off the threat of industrial action.
Unite and Suez have been arguing since the summer, after Suez won a contract to provide recycling and refuse collection services for Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council in June.
The union was unhappy that the new service, which will start in March 2018, would not employ as many workers. The new collection system is described by Suez as involving “substantial changes”, with an end to kerbside sorting in favour of commingled collections.
The possibility of a ballot on strike action has now been avoided following a deal struck as a result of talks with conciliation service Acas.
The agreement means Suez will not make any compulsory redundancies for a year, in the hope that the reduction in staff numbers can be achieved through voluntary redundancies.
Nick Browning, Suez general manager for municipal services, said: “As a responsible employer, reducing staffing levels is not something Suez takes lightly and we have sought to negotiate an outcome that meets the long-term needs of the contract, while importantly also protecting the best interests of our staff.
“Having to make compulsory redundancies is not an outcome we want. As such, Suez has this week accepted the financial risk in guaranteeing to the workforce that we will not consider making any compulsory redundancies for a year from now – well beyond the start of the new contract – which we hope will avoid the need altogether in the longer term.”
Shane Sweeting, regional Unite officer, said: “It’s not only reassuring news for our members, who were under the threat of compulsory redundancy, but good news for the residents and the local economy.”