A RETIRED bin man who spent most than four decades serving mid Cheshire has criticised the working conditions of his former employer.

Harry Worth, 65, from Northwich, retired last month after almost 45 years on the bins.

He originally began working for Vale Royal Borough Council, but in recent years the contract has been tendered to private companies.

For the past four years the contract has been operated by Kier Group on behalf of Cheshire West and Chester Council.

Mr Worth said the job has become increasingly ‘unmanageable’, with workers regularly putting in 11-hour shifts to try to complete the rounds.

“It’s gradually got worse and worse,” Mr Worth said. “They just put more work on you, really big rounds that you couldn’t complete.”

Mr Worth said a normal shift was 7am to 4pm, but said he regularly got home at 7pm.

“I was just shattered,” the 65-year-old said. “Sometimes a few of us were caught going to sleep in the wagon on the way to the tip.

“I came home sometimes and I was too tired to cook so I just had a snack and then went to bed, ready for the next morning.”

Mr Worth said the rounds were ‘unachievable’ and claimed they often would not be completed.

He said on occasions his managers would often complete the rounds for fear of being reprimanded by their bosses.

He also accused Kier of enforcing a ‘school-like’ approach to discipline, with workers receiving verbal warnings for ‘petty’ offences such as not wearing the correct uniform.

Mr Worth said GMB, the workers union, were called to intervene on several occasions, but he said the situation never improved, despite claims that issues had been resolved.

Strikes have been mooted but have never materialised. GMB were not available for comment at the time of going to press.

Mr Worth said there is a ‘disconnect’ between management and the workers on the ground.

He claimed workers are ‘too scared’ to speak up for fear of reprisals.

He said an increasing use of agency staff has also had a big impact on morale.

“It’s only since Kier took over,” he said. “Staff are down-hearted. They don’t want to do the job.”

Mr Worth was also disappointed to not receive a leaving gift on his retirement.

He said he did not receive any recognition from management for his years of service.

“I was really upset,” he said. “I felt like just a number to them.”

A Kier spokesman said: “We would like to thank Harry for his contribution to this vital local service and wish him well in retirement.

“Only last year, Harry and his collection crew were recognised with an internal award for the fantastic work they do, which was a great achievement and something they were extremely proud of.

“We have worked with our employees and the council to provide a successful service in the area and this was recognised as the service was shortlisted for ‘Collection Crew of the Year’ at a recent industry awards.

“We continue to work closely with our teams to ensure they have the support they need to do their jobs safely and effectively, including employing additional permanent resource and collection vehicles to assist with rounds.”

The Guardian contacted CWAC but it declined to comment.