Nordic waste workers consider procurement, health & safety, European developments
(15 November 2010) The financial and economic crisis had a profound impact on the waste sector with declining volumes and pressed for money municipalities seeking lower prices leading to more competition, pressure on pay and conditions as well as job losses in several companies.
The longer term outlook is positive with the sector expected to grow and more jobs being created.
Also a more recent report of Friends of the Earth, the environmental organisation predicts a growth of ½ million jobs if Europe realized its recycling targets and beyond.
The Nordic unions considered a range of issues including reinforced control of standards in public contracts. The Swedish unions realized that companies were not living up to the points agreed in the contracts and pressured the municipality (Stockholm) for better oversight. This resulted in one company going bankrupt as it was fined for not respecting the contract. The unions discussed also a Danish work organization project that improved the position of waste workers. Waste workers become waste consultants assisting citizens in improving sorting of wastes.
EPSU’s Deputy General Secretary gave an overview of European developments.
The sector is governed by an impressive set of European legislation that details how different waste streams are to be treated.
The European Waste Framework directive gives the frame and is to be transposed in national legislation by the end of the year. National waste management (and prevention) programmes are to be ready by 2013.
Important priorities for EPSU in the waste sector include the establishment of a European social dialogue, improving health and safety, ensuring that EWCs are established in the transnatonal companies and a social dimension in procurement.
He also informed participants of the WISUTIL project that includes the waste sector.
The meeting brought together waste trade union representatives from Norway, Denmark and Sweden. It was hosted by Fagforbundet and Norsk Transportarbeider forbundet. The conference took place 13-14 November 2010, Oslo, Norway.