Essex bin collections: Bin staff 'not on strike', Basildon Council insists after delays

Two refuse collectors with pink sacks

Article by Ellis Whitehouse: Basildon Council has insisted that ongoing staff shortages for bin collections are "not due to a strike" as disruptions continue this week.

Residents across Basildon, Billericay, Wickford, Pitsea and Vange have been forced to hold onto their household recycling bags due to a shortage in HGV drivers.

The council has now said that collections for residents' pink sacks will resume on their normal days, but glass collections will be suspended in Basildon today (Thursday, September 9).

In an announcement on Monday at a full council meeting, chief executive Scott Logan said a national shortage of drivers had been "extensively covered" in national media. He said:

"The combination with some internal operational issues led to delays in the service. We are working with all colleagues across Essex to see if we can develop local solutions for this. We will also be looking to review our own recruitment and training policies in this area to ensure we continue to attract appropriately qualified staff. In addition, we will look to provide further training to our own staff who would like to qualify as a HGV driver for the council."

The council administration has faced claims that the disruption is due to staff being on strike, with former Labour leader and Pitsea ward councillor Gavin Callaghan saying the issues are "nothing to do with a shortage in HGV drivers" and that the council was in "chaos".

In a separate post, Mr Callaghan called for an official response regarding any industrial action by refuse workers.

When asked if the staff shortage was due to strike action, a Basildon Council spokesman said that staff had "called in sick" and it was being treated as such, and there had been no industrial action. They added:

"Pinks sack collections have resumed this week on the usual days. Residents are advised to leave pinks sacks out as usual. The shortage of HGV drivers across the country has made drafting in extra resources particularly difficult at this time but we are pleased to be able to resume the pink sack collections and will be sending out street cleaning teams to tidy up areas where needed. Glass collections were suspended in Laindon and Langdon Hills today and will also be suspended in Basildon tomorrow (Thursday 9 September). We sincerely apologise to our residents for the difficulties we have had this week and thank them for following the information that we have put out. The Barleylands Recycling Centre opening times have been extended from 8am to 5.30pm to allow residents access to the facilities until collection issues are resolved."

Essex Live asked the council how many staff it was looking to recruit as HGV drivers and how many existing council staff would be given additional training, but the council declined to give further details.

Article by Ellis Whitehouse, EssexLive