Page last updated at 19:14 GMT, Saturday, 19 September 2009 20:14 UK

Council head firm over bin strike

Bags at Mr Brett's home
Rubbish was dumped at Mr Brett's home with notes from protesters

The head of Leeds Council has defended plans to bring in a new pay and grading system for staff which prompted refuse collectors to go on strike 12 days ago.

The council says it has to make pay for its male and female workers more equal, but refuse collectors say the plan will lead to their wages falling by a third.

Council leader Richard Brett said the unions walked out of talks that might have helped resolve the dispute.

The GMB union says no talks are taking place and he is "muddying the waters".

Mr Brett, who has had bags of rubbish dumped outside his home by protesters, told BBC Radio 4: "The unions have left talks which we think would have gone a long way towards solving this problem.

Many underpaid women in Leeds have had extra pay due to the new contracts that we've introduced
Richard Brett

"The talks that they broke off were about a bonus scheme and greater efficiencies.

"That could have led to at least £17,000 a year as their basic pay."

Mr Brett added that the new pay scheme was intended to bring about equal pay for male and female employees.

He said: "Many underpaid women in Leeds have had extra pay due to the new contracts that we've introduced."

But the GMB and Unison unions have said the proposals would cut some rubbish collectors' pay by up to £6,000 per year from February 2011.

A GMB spokesman said: "I am not aware of any talks that we have walked out of.

"We were available for talks, but Leeds Council had not asked us to go to any talks.

Private collections

"He is just trying to muddy the waters."

Leeds City Council has hired private firms to collect rubbish while the strike continues and says it will collect rubbish on alternate weeks.

Residents are being asked not to leave rubbish outside their homes at nights.

There have been lengthy queues at a waste disposal centre where people have been trying to dispose of refuse - which then had the lock on its gates glued shut.

Many bins in the city are overflowing after 12 days with no collections.

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