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A hundred jobs under threat at Viridor MBT plants in Greater Manchester

Around 100 staff working in Viridor’s Mechanical Biological Treatment (MBT) facilities across Greater Manchester face losing their jobs as the waste management company looks to make cutbacks, it has been reported.

According to a report in the Manchester Evening News published on Thursday (30 November), Viridor has informed staff that it is looking to serve up to 100 redundancies across a number of its MBT facilities in the area, an ambition that was confirmed by the Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority (GMWDA), the group tasked with managing Greater Manchester’s waste.

A hundred jobs under threat at Viridor MBT plants in Greater Manchester
The Reliance Street MBT was one of the first facilities built through the Greater Manchester PFI
According to the report, a source from within Viridor branded the facilities a ‘massive white elephant’ that had not lived up to expectations, with job cuts the inevitable result. Viridor has confirmed that there are ‘technical challenges’ at the sites and a formal consultation period will begin in January to determine the future of the facilities.

The threat of job losses follows the announcement earlier this year that the GMWDA would be prematurely ending its 25-year, £3.2-billion PFI contract with Viridor Laing, the joint venture between Viridor and infrastructure group John Laing.

The GMWDA took ownership of Viridor Laing on 29 September following unrectifiable budget issues, renaming it Greater Manchester Combined Waste and Recycling, and has begun the procurement process to find a new contractor the deliver the region’s waste services.

Discussions taking place

Speaking to the Manchester Evening News, a spokesperson for Viridor said: “Following the final agreement on the Greater Manchester PFI contract on September 29 2017, Viridor can confirm that discussions have begun with the GMWDA concerning operational facilities.

“These discussions centre around the current MBT facilities with anaerobic digestion (AD), as the GMWDA has advised this is where it will predominately focus its efforts in order to achieve financial savings and to address the current technical challenges at these facilities. As part of this process, briefing sessions have been held with trade union representatives and core staff operating these facilities. Staff will be kept informed and supported throughout and a formal consultation process will begin in early 2018.

“Viridor has had a long partnership with the GMWDA. Since 2009, Viridor has helped to transform waste services across the north west of England. The company has registered its interest as part of the GMWDA’s procurement process for the new contracts.”

In a statement to Resource, a spokesperson for the GMWDA assured that the group’s acquisition of Viridor Laing “does not impact on the Viridor job roles” reported to be at risk, adding: “Following the conclusion of the Greater Manchester PFI Waste and Recycling contract on 29 September, we can confirm that we have started our dialogue with Viridor Waste (Greater Manchester) Ltd (VWGM) regarding operational changes to be delivered during the interim contract period up until the start of the new contracts.

“For GMWDA to realise further required savings and to address the technical and operational challenges some changes need to be made to the current operational facilities. These will focus on the MBT facilities with AD and improving recycling levels at household waste recycling centres (HWRC). Both will be implemented over the next 18 months.

“VWGM have held briefing sessions with trade unions and core staff operating the MBT facilities with AD. GMWDA is committed to an open dialogue with VWGM to support staff and a formal consultation process via VWGM will commence in January 2018.

“We believe that potentially around 100 roles would be affected by these changes, and we are committed to working with Viridor and the trade unions on implementing policies that aim to reduce the impact on existing staffing members as much as possible. Redeployment and voluntary redundancy policies and options will be fully deployed.”

Both sides will be keen to resolve any issues swiftly and avoid the kind of turbulent dispute played out on the streets of Birmingham this summer after more than 100 staff were served redundancy notices by Birmingham City Council in an effort to cut costs.  

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