Page last updated at 13:33 GMT, Monday, 2 November 2009

City leaders in bin strike talks

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

The joint leaders of Leeds City Council have held talks with union officials for the first time as a strike by refuse workers enters its ninth week.

Waste collectors and street cleaning staff have been on strike since 7 September in a dispute over pay.

A new offer by the council was rejected last month after unions said some of the productivity targets which formed part of the deal were unachievable.

During talks on Monday the council's leaders agreed to review the targets.

The deal offered by the council would have meant an annual pay cut of £231 for refuse collectors, whereas they originally faced a £4,491 salary drop.

After it was rejected, the Unison and GMB unions called for direct talks with councillors Richard Brett and Andrew Carter.

I have been left with no alternative but to go back to work, go through the picket line and get called a scab. I can handle that
Strike breaker

Mr Brett said: "We said we'd listen to what they had to say, that's exactly what we've done and those discussions were positive.

"We have agreed with the unions that we should both look at the proper evaluation of the productivity rates we want to achieve.

"We have also been able to offer the unions a reassurance that the refuse collection service won't be privatised if the productivity improvements we require are implemented."

Meanwhile, the BBC has spoken to an agency worker who is crossing the picket line.

The man, who asked to remain anonymous, joined the strike when it began but said his agency told him they had no other work for him after two weeks and he was forced to go back.

He said he was being called a "scab" by former colleagues and members of the public.

He said: "The guys that are striking are getting money from the unions, which obviously they have been paying in to, so fair play to them.

"But I have been left with no alternative but to go back to work, go through the picket line and get called a scab. I can handle that.

"At the end of the day I have got a family to support so I have to go to work. I can't get benefits so my arm's forced.

"I understand why they are doing it but surely they have got to understand [my] point of view."

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