Some residents of York will go without having their recycling collected for four weeks to avoid a Birmingham-style equal pay catastrophe, it has been claimed.
Waste and recycling collection dates changed for over Christmas and the New Year, but in areas including Woodthorpe and parts of Foxwood and Acomb, there will be no recycling collection for four weeks.
Collections that would have taken place on 25 December or 29 December will take place on 30 December instead. But only black bins will be emptied on these dates, rather than recycling.
Cllr Paula Widdowson, a Liberal Democrat, launched an attack on Labour.
She said: “Staff in the waste team deserve a break over Christmas and New Year like everyone else, so it’d be helpful to understand why this year, under Labour, it has proved impossible to give staff the time off that they are entitled to whilst keeping the service running, for example through the offer of paid overtime.
“I’d like an assurance that next year, we can return to a system whereby nobody misses out on a recycling collection.
“I have serious concerns that the Askham Bar Tesco and Acomb Morrisons recycling banks will be overwhelmed, and so have asked for urgent confirmation that arrangements are being made to increase the frequency of emptying.”
‘Won’t put York at risk’
Cllr Jenny Kent, the executive member for environment, said paying refuse workers to collect any more rubbish risked equal pay claims that could force the council to issue a section 114 notice.
“All staff are being paid overtime to work additional weekends, but they, like all of us, deserve the choice to spend time with their families and fulfil caring responsibilities over Christmas instead,” Cllr Kent said.
“Previous Liberal Democrat administrations offered last-minute additional inducement payments on top of overtime, but this risked equal pay claims from other staff, who also work unsociable hours without additional bonuses.
“Birmingham City Council went bankrupt on the back of equal pay claims this year, and we won’t put York at risk.
“Our crews work really hard, achieving 99.93 per cent successful collections out of a total of 6.1 million black bin, recycling, and garden waste visits throughout the year.
“Where households will miss a single recycling collection this Christmas, crews will collect the extra, placed with your recycling boxes, on the next scheduled collection.
“Residents can also take items to household waste recycling centres at Hazel Court and Towthorpe, and local recycling points.”
Birmingham City Council issued a section 114 notice in September after it announced it had to pay up to £760m to settle equal pay claims.
It had already spent £1.1bn and its bill was increasing by between £5m and £14m each month.
City of York Council currently forecasts an £11.1m overspend but its finance executive Cllr Katie Lomas does not expect to issue a section 114 notice this financial year.