It’s always ‘binmen’ isn’t it? And never ‘binwoman’ or ‘bin person’?
Well, the rubbish industry is hoping that will change. With a 15% vacancy rate in waste and refuge departments, the sector is calling on mums and veterans to plug the gap and help ensure everyone’s rubbish is picked up on time.
One of the largest refuse collection companies in the country, Veolia UK, is specifically encouraging women and older people to join them as refuse lorry drivers to break the “binman” gender stereotype.
In the past year, Veolia has seen the the number of unfilled driver jobs increase by 40%. Post-Brexit, immigration, the pandemic and an increased demand for deliveries has seen a shortage of HGV drivers, which has caused major disruption to refuse collection.
The shortage of drivers may explain why it’s taken a while for your rubbish to be collected.
Fancy giving it a go and doing the job yourself?
Veolia wants to make clear that “all parents are welcome”, but says it’s specifically targeting mums because of the hours – they can finish the job early and fit it around childcare responsibilities.
There is currently a shortage of between 60,000 and 100,000 drivers in the UK, as estimated by the Road Haulage Association (RHA).
Rising cases of Covid-19 and the recent “pingdemic” have left more drivers needing to isolate, causing further shortages and delays to bin collection.
In addition, other driver jobs, such as shifts in supermarket and online shopping delivery, have been offering incentives previously not available in the refuse industry, causing more people to pivot towards those employers.
Chief human resources officer at Veolia, Beth Whittaker, has said the past few months has also been a “real storm” for refuse, due to the shortages.
“It is a national shortage so we are affected in lots of areas, but there are particular hotspots such as London and the Home Counties,” she said.
“Although all parents are welcome, we do want to focus on mums looking for a part-time job that can wrap around school pick up, I am frustrated by the stereotype of binmen as I speak to the women who work here and, even though it’s a minority, they are passionate about what they do.
“We are looking to break down the barrier that are placed there so as the demographics are predominantly male, we would like to increase the number of females. We offer a really good lifestyle – no overnights, no long-haul or overseas, so ideal for family time.”
Veolia has decided to offer retention and hiring bonuses to staff, but is calling on local authorities to help with the money.