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Bin collection chaos looms as homes throughout the capital face a strike

DUBLIN is two days away from being flooded with rubbish unless emergency talks can avert a bin strike.

A bitter row between a local authority and workers is threatening to plunge the capital into collection chaos by the weekend.

Up to 18,000 householders could be left without a bin collection service from Thursday, with tens of thousands likely to be hit within days.

No progress has been made between representatives of the Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council and SIPTU, who were reconvening for talks at the Labour Relations Court this afternoon.

Refuse workers intend to leave large areas of south Dublin without a collection service as part of their campaign against the privatisation of the service.



Redeployed

The dispute centres on the council's decision to appoint private waste collection firm Panda to replace its own service from next Monday.

Council chiefs have advised householders to use Panda as the preferred service provider.

SIPTU served strike notice on the council after learning that its members were to be redeployed to other sections of the local authority.

However, while Panda will move into the Dun Laoghaire area from next week, refuse workers in two other Dublin councils have already balloted in favour of taking industrial action in support.

The employees of Fingal and South Dublin county councils are prepared to leave tonnes of rubbish uncollected in a show of solidarity for their fellow bin collectors in Dun Laoghaire.

The result of a ballot by collectors in the Dublin city region is due tomorrow, but it is expected that they will also favour strike action.

Speaking after talks adjourned last night, SIPTU organiser Ramon O'Reilly said: "No progress has been in the talks so far.

"Union members will be taking industrial action from the start of business on Thursday unless the current deadlock can be broken."

DLRCC is arguing that it has no alternative but to outsource the service because it is currently operating at a major loss, estimated to be €3.5m for this year.

Bosses say that its customer base has shrunk from 64,000 in 2006 to just 18,500 now, as it struggles to compete with private operators.

The council is stressing that none of the 25 staff affected will lose their jobs and all will be redeployed to improving services in other frontline areas.

However, SIPTU has demanded that the council retain the workers in their current positions.

The union is accusing County Manager Owen Keegan of breaching agreements, including the Croke Park public sector agreement.

Mr O'Reilly has speculated that privatisation usually raised the cost of waste collection and could result in householders living on unprofitable routes being abandoned.

The council said the Panda service will be free for the first six months to all domestic householders who currently avail of the local authority's service.

kdoyle@herald.ie


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