Brighton and Hove City Council is working with the GMB union to offer English language classes to foreign street-cleaners in a bid to cut accident rates.
The high incidence of refuse collectors being injured at work, combined with survey results that revealed 38% of the council’s 400 cleaning staff did not have an acceptable level of English literacy, persuaded the authority’s Cityclean division and GMB to start the Skills for Life programme. The initiative, developed with Sussex Downs College is designed to equip employees with English language skills and incorporating health and safety information and warning sign recognition. Classes are held at Cityclean’s depot.
The Council claims that since the programme started last September, accident rates and near-misses have dropped significantly. There has also been an improvement in staff morale and job satisfaction, and employees are better able to complete paperwork. Martin Vince, GMB union learning representative at Cityclean said the scheme had also boosted many workers’ confidence.