Headlines: December 19th, 2002

The outsourcing of Brighton and Hove City Council’s refuse and street service proved disasterous. As well as service failures it resulted in staff doing the same jobs on different terms and conditions, because of contracts signed with different contractors. The council terminated the contract with the final contractor in October 2001 and transferred the service back under direct management.A thoroughgoing review has resulted in a switch in the focus of the waste service from refuse to recycling. The recycling service has been expanded and staff transferred from refuse to recycling collection. The Recycling and Refuse Services have been integrated and managers made jointly responsible for refuse and recycling collection crews.

Lifelong learning is being introduced for refuse collectors. The training and development proposals include basic skills, IT development, recycling and waste reduction as well as customer care. The aim is to make all staff green ambassadors. The project will be jointly funded by the Brighton & Hove City Council and the Learning Skills Council and the GMB union will provide additional resources. A bid has also been made to the TUC for funding for training and development.

The council worked closely with the GMB union and contracts have been harmonised to end the inequalities of the two-tier workforce. All staff have been given an opportunity to join the council’s pension scheme. More than 50 agency staff who previously worked for the service on a casual basis have been taken on as council staff, giving them better pay and job security.

A key measure of performance, complaints about missed bins and litter, has started to move downwards.