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Industrial action by Serco bin workers in the Black Country is on the cards after a union claimed it had urged workers to ignore its own safety rules.

A ballot among GMB union members resulted in workers voting to take action short of a strike – effectively working to rule.

The GMB said Serco had removed two rounds from the Sandwell domestic waste contract and put the work onto existing crews, which was on top of all the new build houses placed onto rounds over the last few years.

It said the decision had raised “serious concerns about health and safety” because employees were having to cut corners to complete their work.

However, the GMB also claimed that when it had advised members to make sure they follow the company’s safe working practices, “Serco hauled workers into management meetings about their performance levels".

Initial talks with the company failed to reach a resolution and the union was due to meet with the company again today (Wednesday) but it said it would set dates for the action to start if an agreement was not reached.

Darren James, GMB branch secretary, said: “The ballot result shows the strength of feeling among our members – they don’t want to inconvenience the public but they are angry and they want Serco to know it.

“Their safety and the safety of the public must come ahead of Serco’s bottom line."

Serco did not respond as we went to press.