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Green light for sell-off of city bin collections

DUBLIN city's bin service has been given the green light to move into private hands.

The final obstacle in the way of the privatisation of the capital's bin service has been removed by the Labour Court.

Dublin City Council can now press ahead with the move to hand over the refuse collection operation to a private company in January.

The Labour Court ruled the local authority's decision could not be deemed outsourcing as its bin service was not viable anymore.

As such, the deal with Greyhound Recycling and Recovery did not breach the Croke Park Agreement on public sector reform.

The court agreed with the council that it has no option but to withdraw from the market as it cannot compete with private operators.

It means the deadline set by city officials for the handover of the service -- January 13 -- can be met.

The city is the last local authority area in the greater Dublin region with a council-run bin service.

It has been losing about €10m a year on household waste collection, mainly due to the provision of waivers to more than 40,000 low-income households.



Defected

The losses have been mounting steadily as the number of families entitled to a waiver has grown during the economic downturn.

In addition, thousands of customers paying the full price for the service have defected to private collectors.

Assistant city manager Seamus Lyons had said the council would lose an additional €1.5m in 2012 if it continued to collect bins. The losses would almost double in subsequent years.

Mr Lyons has told councillors the deficit was no longer sustainable, given the pressures on the city's budget.

The Labour Court's ruling has wider implications as it sets a precedent for other State-run services to opt out if they are losing money.

The council's 159 bin collection staff will not lose their jobs but are to be redeployed to other sections of the local authority.

Trade unions IMPACT and SIPTU, who represent the bin workers, have said the council's decision would have a negative effect on the city.

It insisted that families in receipt of waivers would be at risk of losing the benefit of the scheme.

The unions also raised environmental issues, saying there would likely be an increase in illegal dumping by residents unable to meet increased charges.

comurphy@herald.ie


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