Page last updated at 15:37 GMT, Thursday, 22 October 2009 16:37 UK

Bin union wants talks with leader

Striking bin workers
The bin strike in Leeds is now in its seventh week

One of the unions representing striking council refuse workers in Leeds has called for council leaders to attend meetings in person.

Waste collectors and street cleaning staff, who have been on strike since 7 September, rejected a new offer from the city council on Wednesday.

Unions and councillors are to meet again later to discuss the strike.

Alan Hughes of Unison said he believed it would be "far more fruitful" to bring unions and leaders together.

Mr Hughes said: "The council leader, Councillor Richard Brett, says he is happy for council officers to provide clarification of its position but we feel strongly that we must now deal directly with elected members.

The council's best and final deal is on the table - but the unions have walked away from it
Councillor Richard Brett

"Council officers have been coming to negotiations with their hands tied because they have been given strict instructions from the politicians about what they can and cannot negotiate about."

Mr Hughes said he had written to council leaders asking them to negotiate directly.

The Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, was in Leeds earlier and urged both sides in the dispute to sit down and talk.

The council has hired private firms to collect rubbish while the strike continues.

Mr Brett said: "The council's best and final deal is on the table - but the unions have walked away from it.

"It is the best offer that we can make and we are happy to discuss any points the unions may need to clarify, but they have rejected what is a fair deal for the binmen and other Streetscene workers.

"We have ensured that people will not lose out, but all we have asked is that they work their full shifts in return. That is only fair - fair for them and fair for the taxpayers of Leeds."

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