Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Bury Binmen & New Technology

'Binmen get iPads to save on paper' (see headline in the METRO 30th, August 2011)

BURY Town Council has had a history of dedication to new technology. In 2006, it used the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) to allow it to send a security officer to film a team of three binmen emptying some trade waste in the district of Whitefield: this was done using a hand-held camcorder in an unmarked council vehicle. The plan was to prove the binmen were taking bribes to empty the waste of an Asian shopkeeper and they were accused of 'using a council vehicle for pecuniary gain' and the three binmen were sacked. They had been accused of accepting a bribe - a bottle of Strawberry Volvic water. But the case never went to the Employment Tribunal because Bury MBC, in an out-of-Court settlement, paid compensation to the binmen days before the case was to be heard. It was estimated that the case cost Bury Council about £100,000 in legal fees and the money paid to the binmen in final settlement of the matter.

Later, Northern Voices was approached by the security guard who had filmed the binmen. It seems that he was disappointed that the case had not been processed through the police and the courts but he was more concerned that Bury MBC had used audio recording gear in one on Bury Council's own vehicles to record some of Bury MBC's security guards going about their business. It seems it was being used to prove that security guards on the night shift were not conducting themselves properly and had accepted unofficial brews in some care home. This security guard was a member of Unison and it is rumoured that he was later made 'redundant' and got a similar settlement to the three binmen who he had been involved in monitoring using the hand-held camcorder. No doubt Bury MBC insisted on a gagging clause.

One wonders how much Bury MBC's addiction to new technology has cost it thus far?

It must come as no surprise to the Tax Payers' Alliance and the troubled citizens of Bury, that last week Bury Council announced that they were going to buy iPads for their binmen to 'save on paperwork'. This will be costing about £9,000. Glenn Stuart, head of waste management at Bury MBC, has said: 'The scheme is replacing paperwork which can get lost in cabs or get wet.' Robert Oxley, campaign manager of the Taxpayers' Alliance, said: 'It beggars belief that a council making huge savings can find this money to splash out on iPads. Residents want bin services that are reliable and efficient, not council staff monitoring what they're throwing out.'

Meanwhile, Bury MBC is proposing to cut back on its waste collection service by going from weekly collections to fortnightly and moving some of its binmen to street cleansing.


Anonymous said...

The worrying thing about all this is that Bury Council may have breached European Human Rights' laws in spying on its employees: over their right to privacy and family life. But by accepting a pay off with a gagging clause, the staff in both the case of the three binmen filmed and the security guards whose conversations were alleged to have been recorded, lost the right to take their cases to the European Courts. One wonders if their unions - Unite the Union in the case of the binmen and Unison in the case of the security guards - fully informed their members of this entilement?

Anonymous said...

i was the shop steward sacked in this case and can tell you i was hung out to dry by thornleys solicitors who insisted i accepted the payment or they were dropping my case at 2pm on the friday before the tribunal set for 9am on the monday they said i would have to find and pay for my own representation if i didnt settle which i didnt want to do but had no optionthey in fact insisted that i accept a quarter of what i eventually recieved

Anonymous said...

no they didnt fully inform us we were told our human rights were not breached by both the union and the unions solicitor