Staff bullying and welfare concerns after Breckland bin delays

Breckland councillors have raised concerns about Serco bin staff

Breckland councillors have raised concerns about Serco bin staff - Credit: Archant

Concerns have been raised over bullying and welfare of staff working for a contractor which oversees an area's bin collections.

On Thursday, Ronnie Coutts from contractor Serco addressed councillors' concerns at a meeting of Breckland full council after several missed bin collections across the district in the past few months.

Explaining the issues, Mr Coutts said there have been HGV driver shortages across the UK in the last few months, in part down to the loss of drivers from the EU after Brexit and what he called the "Amazon effect" of people wanting more delivered.

The Serco representative said they had also found "weaknesses in our management team" and they had removed staff and members from elsewhere.

"Where we are getting behind we are getting behind in small figures," he said.

Councillor Susan Dowling raised concerns about "significant pressure" being placed on workers "including reports of bullying".

Breckland Councillor for Thetford Priory Susan Dowling. Photo: Breckland Council

Labour's Susan Dowling - Credit: Breckland Council

Ms Dowling asked council leader Sam Chapman-Allen if Breckland had a duty of care to the workers.

Mr Chapman-Allen said Serco, like Breckland, has a whistleblowing policy and that any reports of bullying should be passed onto the company.

"If people have raised issues with yourself you have a moral obligation and a duty of care to pass that on to the head of paid services," he said.

Most Read

"She will not investigate it but she will pass it over to Serco, who are responsible and have a duty of care to their staff."

Labour leader on the council, Terry Jermy, said he had significant concerns about staff welfare and was reassured that Mr Coutts had raised it as a concern they wanted to address.

Norfolk County Councilor for Thetford West, Terry Jermy.

Labour's Terry Jermy - Credit: Archant

The Serco representative said the company was looking at addressing rates of pay, and wanted to bring in more staff, but warned this could take months.

Mr Coutts said: "Our crews, our supervisors, are doing a fantastic job, they are very tired people, working all the hours.

"They are turning to managers and saying 'what can I do next boss', 'where do you want me to go next, can I work on Saturday'?"

Mr Coutts will be appearing before the council's overview and scrutiny committee on Thursday, September 9.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter