THOUSANDS of homes in North Swindon could miss out on having their rubbish collected for almost a month as binmen take strike action tomorrow over low pay.
They are joining local government workers, teachers and firefighters in a day of action over a range of issues from pay to working conditions.
At this stage it is not known exactly how many will walk out as union members do not have to declare their intention, but the council is bracing itself for disruption to waste collection services, with North Swindon due for collections tomorrow.
The problem is exacerbated as the council cannot bring in extra services to deal with any rubbish which is not picked up due to laws surrounding industrial action.
It means some homes could not get their waste collected for a further two weeks.
At this stage the council is not in a position to speak about further plans because they do not know what the level of disruption will be.
The advice being given to residents is to put rubbish out as normal and if it has not been collected by 5pm then take it back indoors.
A priority for collection will be given to household waste and recycling. The recycling centre at Waterside will be open, although there are likely to be some staff shortages.
On a normal day, there would be around 125 drivers and loaders on duty, about 25 of whom would be agency workers. Of the other 100, the council do not know how many will be taking action and are prevented from bringing in more agency staff.
Coun Toby Elliott (Con, Priory Vale) said he would see if anything could be done to help those homes that do not get their waste collected.
He said: “I think people on both sides of the fence would agree that taking strike action is the last thing anyone wants to do.
“It’s not just the bins but with some schools closing, parents are having to re-arrange their whole lives for the day.
“If bins are not collected then some homes will not have their waste taken for a month which is unnacceptable and regrettable.
“I will be working with the cabinet member for waste and the council leader to see if we can put any extra services on to deal with any problems while staying within the law.
“Residents in my ward who are having a problem can contact me and I will see what I can do to help”
Local government workers who are in Unite, Unison or GMB are taking the action after rejecting the government’s offer of a wage rise because it was not in line with inflation.
“We are working with the unions to minimise the houses which are affected but we are anticipating most will go out on strike.
“We have some agency staff and we are prioritising waste which is likely to contain the most material likely to cause upset, such as food.
“This is very frustrating as I have only recently taken over the portfolio.”