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Wirral binmen strike could target the Open
BINMEN could go on strike during The Open Championship in Hoylake.
Wirral's street cleaners and binmen voted for possible industrial action in a row over pay and conditions.
Trade union Unite confirmed last week that it is in dispute with Biffa, the council’s current contractor for recycling, refuse and street cleaning services.
The union’s 190 members were balloted on July 4 and voted in favour of possible industrial action.
Today, Brian Nelson, local officer for Unite, told members of both Unite and Unison that the strike could take place on July 18 when more than 200,000 people are expected to descend on the borough for the golf.
He said there is a "strong possibility" that the strike will take place on the second day of the Open, which is taking place at Royal Liverpool in Hoylake.
"We have got two meetings on Monday and Wednesday next week with management at Biffa.
"I'm hopeful that we can resolve it, we would obviously rather resolve it than have to take action but obviously if we do take action, there's a strong possibility it will be on July 18."
The ballot, which closed on July 4, concerns this year’s annual pay negotiations for staff on the Wirral contract.
A Biffa spokesman said it was “disappointing” that union members had backed the vote, adding: “The union has four weeks in which to notify Biffa of potential dates for industrial action and the nature of such action, and must give at least a week’s notice before any specific date action.”
The ballot came exactly a year after more than 200 Biffa staff voted to strike last year.
At the time, union officials blamed the situation on reductions to local government budgets.
The action was averted after a deal was reached and Biffa hopes the same will happen this time and that negotiations can “resolve the threat” of industrial action and the possibility of local service disruption.
Brian added: "If we can't resolve things locally on Monday we have a meeting with conciliation service ACAS on Wednesday. I hope we can resolve it."
A spokesman for Wirral Council said: “We are anticipating that close to 200,000 people will visit Hoylake during the Open.
"As in 2006, we already have plans for additional street cleansing and bin emptying in the surrounding area with a separate contractor, which goes over and above and falls outside the terms of the Council’s waste contract.
“Bin collections which were scheduled to take place in the area during the Open were rescheduled with Biffa some time ago and so would not be affected.
“We have not been made aware of any confirmed strike action. This is a matter for the contractor to resolve with their own workforce.”