Page last updated at 13:27 GMT, Friday, 4 September 2009 14:27 UK

City braced for long bin strike

Strike action is scheduled to begin in Leeds on Monday

More than 600 refuse and street cleaning workers in Leeds are to strike "indefinitely" after last-ditch talks between unions and the council failed.

Unions warned that the streets of Leeds would be "awash with wrappers and rotting food... potentially for weeks".

Workers will picket outside refuse and street "cleansing" depots from Monday.

Council leader Richard Brett said: "I believe strike action serves no purpose other than to cause disruption to the people of Leeds."

He said the decision by the unions to call their members out was "deeply regrettable" and accused them of walking away from the table after making unrealistic demands.

The council said the union had even been unwilling to make an exception for medical waste collections, including used syringes, "therefore putting the city's most vulnerable people at risk".

'Misery and disruption'

Unions claim the council plans to cut refuse collectors' annual salaries by up to £6,000 from February 2011.

In a statement, the GMB union said: "Streets will not be swept and the situation will intensify as the indefinite strike action potentially continues for weeks."

Bill Chard of the GMB said council leaders had "missed a golden opportunity to save citizens from untold misery and disruption".

Tony Pearson, regional organiser for Unison, said the council seemed "hell-bent" on forcing his members to take the strike action they "overwhelmingly voted for".

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