New rubbish company looking to cut jobs

Portsmouth City Council unveils its £4m budget-trimming plan

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JOBS are under threat at the city’s new waste collection firm.

Biffa, which took over from Veolia as the company employed by Portsmouth City Council to collect household rubbish and recycling at the start of this month, has told The News it is reviewing its staff numbers.

And the 64 workers employed in Portsmouth are expecting almost a sixth of the work force to be laid off.

One employee, who asked to remain anonymous because he fears he could lose his job, said: ‘We’ve been told it’s likely to be 10.

‘They want to cut from the normal crews of one driver and three collectors to a driver and two collectors. It’s too much work. These rounds are long and hard work as it is. And people are petrified.

‘No-one knows what will happen next, but we know people will lose their jobs.’

Biffa won the council’s waste collection contract – worth a potential £20m over the next eight years – in part because it said it could operate at a saving to the taxpayer of £1m per year.

It collects waste from almost 90,000 houses and flats.

When it took over, Veolia’s employees were entitled by law to switch to be employed by Biffa.

The same law says they must all keep their jobs for at least 90 days.

But the employee said: ‘We were told by them at the time that they hoped not everyone would come across, now they’ve said that they’re looking at job cuts.

‘We have people here who have done this job since they first left school. They have homes and families, and now no-one knows what to do.

‘I want us to work-to-rule in protest, as most of us work extra hours and don’t take the breaks we’re entitled to. But people are frightened and it just takes one person not to do it and that’s ruined.’

Biffa spokesman Blair Drummond, said: ‘Overall staffing numbers are being reviewed. However, no decision has been made about redundancies, and the company is assessing alternatives to help secure jobs.

‘Staff will be consulted according to statutory requirements and good practice.’

The Unite union, also involved in discussion over the potential job losses, failed to comment.