Thursday, 24 September 2009
Kicking up a stink
Residents of Leeds, myself included, are having to hold their noses when they venture out of doors. The city's refuse collectors are into a third week of industrial action, in a move backed by the trade unions Unison and GMB, and rubbish is beginning to pile up in the city's streets. At the heart of the strike is the matter of pay; workers claim that council plans to equalise remuneration between its male and female employees will lead to their wages falling by a third. The latest news is that waste disposal services may well be privatised in the future, a move which would lend weight to those conspiracy theorists who may see an ulterior motive in any proposed pay cuts. The strike has been declared by the unions as 'indefinite'.
It's not been a glorious moment for the unholy Tory/Lib Dem coalition who run the council. Rubbish has been dumped outside the home of leader Richard Brett - resulting in six arrests - and there have been claims of threatening telephone calls. It's not quite the stuff of the Winter of Discontent just yet, but with no evidence of reconciliation any time soon it might not be far off.
So where has councillor Brett been during one of the largest industrial actions in the city in recent times? Yep, you guessed it - down at the Liberal Democrat conference in Bournemouth. The lack of leadership during a time of crisis is palpable; let's just hope the people of Leeds remember that come election time.