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Industrial Action Frequently Asked Questions

The workers deserve fair pay. Why can’t you give them a pay rise?

Mid Ulster District Council has proposed a 4% pay increase for staff over 2 years, on top of the national pay offer which would bring a further 10% rise this year for those on the lowest scales.
 
The Council’s local proposal would see all staff (excluding the senior management team) move up their existing pay scales by 2 points, and also includes a one-off payment of £500 in recognition of the financial pressures which many face as a result of the cost of living crisis.
 
An increase of £1,925 from 1 April 2022 is part of the national pay offer which equates to a rise in excess of 10% for those on the lowest scales in Mid Ulster to 4% for most staff on higher scales.
 
If accepted, the combined pay awards would see those on lower scales receive projected increases in their take-home pay this year of £27.70 per week to £31.20 per week.
 
The local offer has been rejected.
 
Both would have to be funded exclusively by the Council and the local proposal in Mid Ulster is by far the most generous currently on offer from any council in Northern Ireland.


Bin Collections

How many bins are being collected?

Every day we are collecting between 40% and 50% of bins.
 
This week (w/c 8 August) and last week we have been able to empty hundreds of additional bins which we hadn’t reached previously. We aim to continue this approach, adding extra capacity where we can, and so we are asking our residents to continue to leave their bins out on their normal collection days.


Why can’t you tell me specifically if bins on my road or street are going to be collected?

Unfortunately, the situation is fluid and the number of bin collection routes which we are able to cover on any day depends on the staff we have available, the number of trained staff we can redeploy and the number of staff who are available to do additional collections.


If one area receives a collection one week, will another are receive a collection the next week?

We are trying to reach as many areas of Mid Ulster as we can. The Dungannon area and the Clogher Valley have been the most adversely affected and so we have, for example, concentrated additional resources on reaching parts of that area. However, we have also extended our collections in the wider Magherafelt area when we have had extra capacity.
 
The routes we can collect are also influenced by the knowledge of our available drivers and bin loaders. If staff are unfamiliar with a route, it is extremely difficult to make sure it is covered in its entirety.


The bin lorry has driven past my house or road. Why didn’t it stop to empty my bin?

Once their own routes are completed, crews are also going out again to complete additional bin collections. As these are predominantly in high density, urban developments where we can maximise the number of bins collected, they take place across routes, rather than following normal routes.
 
A lorry may have driven past your house or road without collecting your bins. This can also be because a lorry is on the way to service a different route or returning to the depot, or a brown bin squad is passing a black bin or vice versa.


Can existing staff not work overtime during the week and at the weekend?

Our existing staff are working overtime in order to complete additional routes during the week and staff, where they are suitably trained, are already working on Saturdays to provide additional capacity at recycling centres as well.


Why can’t office staff go out on the bins?

Where we have trained staff, we are already redeploying them to the bin service and others are working additional hours.
 
Unfortunately it’s not simply a question of moving office-based staff to work in the bin service. Aside from the employment and contractual issues, these roles – and we would need around 100 staff to fill the gap - require substantial training.
 
Crucial to the service delivery, however, are the qualified HGV drivers and the specially trained drivers of our ‘one-armed vehicles’ which we cannot replace from within our existing staff.


Why don't you use private companies to empty the bins?

Unfortunately using private contractors is currently not a viable option for a number of reasons. Companies focus on commercial work, rather than residential, extensive knowledge would be required of over 30 bin routes and health, safety, training and operating requirements are exacting. Significantly, commercial companies currently have little or no capacity to take on additional work given their own resource pressures.

Can I use my blue and brown bins to dispose of household waste?

If you use other bins for household waste they will be contaminated and will not then be emptied. While we know this is not an option for many people, the best advice is to bring additional waste to a recycling centre or store it in bags until normal service resumes.


What do I do with my waste if my bins are full?

We know using a recycling centre isn’t an option for everyone, however, if you are able to transport your waste and recycling to one of our centres, we are working to ensure we have sufficient capacity to take additional waste during the period of the industrial action.

We advise that waste being brought to recycling centres is better bagged, rather than transported in bins. This is because bin lifters are available only in Coalisland and Dungannon recycling centres. In Dungannon there is a bin lifter for blue and black bins (note however, that in Dungannon recycling centre, brown bin waste can be tipped from a bin directly onto the floor of the green waste area) and in Coalisland a bin lifter is currently available for black bins only.


Why can you not put bin lorries in other locations so residents can dispose of their waste more locally?

We are utilising bin lorries in recycling centres predominantly on Saturdays when trained staff are available. To park lorries in other locations to act as ‘bring sites’ or substitutes for recycling centres would mean diverting our trained staff from collection routes or recycling centres. This would also require safe working areas to be established which would entail additional staff both to set up barriers and cones, to manage traffic and then to remove all equipment again.


Leisure Services

What services have been affected in leisure?

Two of our leisure centres have been impacted by the industrial action – Cookstown Leisure Centre and Greenvale Leisure Centre.
 
In Greenvale Leisure Centre, junior swimming lessons are not taking place. However, leisure family swimming and lane swimming are still available and gym, fitness classes, soft play and summer schemes are operating as normal.
 
In Cookstown Leisure Centre, there are no swimming lessons. However, we are now able to offer some limited swimming in both the main and leisure pools. While the fitness class studio programme is suspended, the fitness studio is open, as are soft play and bowling. Summer scheme activities are operating as normal, with no swimming provision.
 
We advise leisure centre customers to check the centres’ Facebook pages for each day’s availability.


Will I get a refund on my leisure membership?

We will be reimbursing all members for the impact on their membership as soon as possible once the industrial action finishes. We are committed to ensuring that none of our leisure members will be financially out of pocket.


Your Rates

I’m not receiving a service which I pay for through my rates. Can I get a rebate on my rates?
 
The rates you pay are made up of the regional rate (set by the NI Executive) and the district rate (set by local councils), with approximately 42% of your rates coming to Mid Ulster to fund local services.
 
Rates are not collected by or paid to the Council, but rather to central government (Land and Property Services) and they fund all public services, from health and education to roads, as well as the services provided by councils.
 
There is no facility under the current system to offer rebates for any reduction in a service provided by a local council or any other public body which is funded through your rates.


Will my rates go up when a pay award is agreed?

Any pay award is funded exclusively by the Council. While no offers have been accepted and so no decisions made about how they may be funded, some costs are likely to be met from cash reserves, with the remainder funded through the rates base over a time period to be agreed.



 

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