Bin jobs are safe if new firm takes over city contract

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BIN collectors working in Portsmouth will not lose their jobs as a result of a new company being chosen to take over the city’s waste collection.

The city council has decided to replace its existing waste collection firm, Veolia, with another – Biffa Waste Services.

Pending Biffa’s confirmation, the decision will mark the end of Veolia’s 15 years emptying the city’s bins and recycling collections.

And it had caused concern over the future of those employed by the firm.

But Avril Ely, branch officer of Unite, the union with most Veolia-employed city workers, said they are likely to keep their jobs.

She said: ‘The workers were told about this last week, and there were some concerns, but as we understand it, the employees will keep their jobs, without having to reapply. We don’t know what might happen further down the line, but we understand all jobs are safe at the moment.’

Veolia has run the city’s waste collection since 1996, when it signed a deal with Hampshire County Council to empty bins and recycle waste for the entire county.

Portsmouth City Council, set up when the city won unitary status in April 1997, continued its contract with the firm.

But the agreement ends on September 30 2011, and the council invited tenders from a range of firms to take over from October 1.

Veolia, Biffa and one other firm, as yet unnamed, applied.

The council said it could not comment on the decision, until a cooling-off period ends on Thursday.

The 10-day hiatus is to allow Biffa to accept the contract, or the other firms to appeal against the offer.

Neither Biffa or Veolia commented on the decision.

Protestors had campaigned against Veolia’s inclusion on the council shortlist, as they claimed the firm operated transport and litter services in illegal Israeli settlements on the West Bank. The company denied the claims.

It is understood Biffa won the contract after performing best on both ‘cost’ and ‘quality of service’ in the bidding process. It will collect waste and recycling under the same arrangements as Veolia – weekly for waste and fortnightly for recycling.