Staffing Challenges for Bin Crews

Many of you will have seen the news of the national issue of shortages in workforces both in the private and public sector due to COVID. In addition, many businesses and councils have had issues with recruiting and retaining HGV and HCV drivers. This is at a time with summer holidays and of course people can also have illnesses and absences not related to COVID-19. All have caused a shortage of agency staff too as nationally businesses and organisations are looking to quickly fill these vacancies. Indeed, some Councils have already started to reduce or stop some main bin collection rounds due to all these factors.

As you are aware, these operational staff have been carrying out pretty challenging roles during the pandemic in often very difficult circumstances – and often filling in or carrying out extra duties to meet our various demands.

Here in West Suffolk, we have been monitoring and managing the situation where we have seen a number of staff ill, including quarantining due to COVID, as well as on annual leave. Our usual short-term gaps in capacity are typically filled by agency staff but these are currently very scarce indeed. At the moment the situation remains challenging, and our capacity is stretched but we have manged to keep bulk bin collections going (recycling, general and garden waste) However, there have been occasions where teams have gone out after their own rounds to help others. That said, we have sometimes had to delay or suspend the delivery of replacement bins and bulky collections and informed affected residents accordingly.

We are of course keeping this situation under constant review and working with our staff on the best possible solutions, often on a daily basis due to capacity, but this is frankly becoming more challenging. If this changes further, we will do our best to keep you informed.

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