HAMILTON City Council must show leadership and reject two wrong-headed recommendations coming from the Public Works, Infrastructure and Environment Committee, says the union representing inside and outside workers at the City of Hamilton. The union is warning residents about two recommendations to be presented to Council on Wednesday, November 10th, involving the extension of a private contract for garbage and recycling collection, and a costly retrofit of the privately-owned Materials Recycling Facility (MRF).
City Councillors have an opportunity to show residents they have learned the hard lessons of privatization, said Gus Oliveira, president of Local 5167 of the Canadian Union Public Employees (CUPE). Weve seen the problems with the privatization model in our water and wastewater systems thats why Council is now bringing them back under public control. Council needs to recognize that reliable public services are the best way to go for garbage and recycling as well.
In 2001, Council contracted out half of the Citys garbage collection to the private sector, in a bid to show who does it cheaper a private company or public workers. While the evidence now shows public workers do it more economically, the Public Works Committee is recommending the city extend the private contract, arguing that competition in the service achieves savings.
Three years later, all evidence points to the fact that city workers do it more efficiently, despite the fact that public service workers were given the most difficult and time-consuming zones in the City to cover, said Oliveira. Its time for Councillors to restore accountability and bring back the entire garbage and recycling operation under public control. The union has presented evidence to Council based on the citys own figures, pointing to the higher efficiency of city workers.
The committee is also recommending a costly retrofit of the privately-owned Materials Recycling Facility (MRF), in spite of a more economical option that would see the City design, build, and operate a new state of the art MRF. Building and operating a new facility will cost about $1 million less than the private retrofit option, said Oliveira. A new public facility will not only allow the City to manage and meet new environmental criteria, it will also restore accountability and bring the recycling facility back under public control.
We are urging Councillors to base their decisions on facts and not let themselves be driven by right-wing ideology, said Oliveira. Rejecting the recommendations makes sound financial sense for the City, and its in the best interest of taxpayers.
Supporters and members of CUPE Local 5167, which represents over 2,800 City of Hamilton workers, will go to City Hall on Wednesday evening to urge councillors to reject the two recommendations and restore full public services.
For further information, please contact:
Gus Oliveira, President CUPE Local 5167 - 905-517-4105 cell
James Chai, CUPE Communications - 416-292-3999