Binman who wore hi-vis KILT after council shorts ban claims victory in dispute

Binman who wore hi-vis KILT after council shorts ban claims victory in dispute

A binman who wore hi-vis kilt after a council banned the wearing of shorts has claimed victory in dispute.

Lee Moran mounted his striking demonstration in July when York City Council told him he had to remain covered despite thermostats soaring above 38c (100f).

And three months later, he said he’s “very happy” with his new fluorescent clothing, which he’s been allowed to wear to work over a two-week period.

The frustrated dad-of-three had campaigned for years to let binmen wear looser outfits, but said he was told that “health and safety” rules didn’t permit them to wear shorts.

However, Lee, 51, claimed his bosses later confessed that this wasn’t true, and in fact said it was to protect waste workers’ “public image”.

The binman sourced his fluorescent orange kilt from Canada after finding a loophole in the regulations, and then proudly completed his rounds in the eye-catching outfit.

And following York City Council’s decision to agree to the trial earlier this week, Lee said he had won “a battle, but not the war”.

He said: “We’re really happy that we are trialling them. Hopefully, they’ll give us what we want and allow us to wear them next year.

“It’s a small victory. We’ve won a battle, but not the war.

“It’s been an absolute nightmare. They kept throwing health and safety regulations at me when it was really just York City Council’s policy.

“We think the shorts are absolutely fantastic. Even in the cold weather we’ve been wearing them. A happy workforce is an efficient workforce.”

Lee, who has worked as a binman for six years, said he’d always trusted his managers when they told him he was banned from wearing shorts on “health and safety” grounds.

But when he went online earlier this summer and looked up the regulations, he was shocked to find out that this was in fact untrue.

He said: “This year, I decided to have a look online. I’ve looked at the health and safety laws, and there are no laws regarding binmen wearing shorts.

“It’s up to our managers and health and safety at work. So I just put it forward to the managers, ‘Why are you using health and safety as an excuse when basically, it’s just public image?’

“One of the managers then admitted it was basically due to ‘reputation’, so I said, ‘We’re sweating, doing hard work in the sun just to look good for the public?’

‘It’s alright saying ‘health and safety’ but you’re not taking our well-being into consideration at the same time.

“We’re sweating in these trousers, we’re at risk of collapse.'”

Lee said he ordered the £60 kilt online from a supplier in Canada and had put it on only after his suspicious managers had made inquiries about his clothes on that day.

He said: “Instead of going to work like I normally do, I met up on the job.

“I had my normal work attire on, and I waited for the manager to ring the driver to see if I had the kilt on.

“As soon as the manager rang up, I got changed into the kilt and worked all day in it.

Lee, who at sites works across the city of York, Monday to Friday, said a lot of local residents had sympathized with his protest.

He said: “Loads of people came up.

“They wondered why I was wearing a kilt, so I explained to them and they said, ‘That’s ridiculous, I can’t believe they won’t let you wear shorts.’

Lee said that he and his crew of Baz Storr and Chris Hammerton had begun wearing the shorts three days ago, adding they were “a step forward in the right direction.”

He said: “We are not quite celebrating yet. We are obviously waiting until summer, but it’s a step forward in the right direction.

“We’ve worn them for three days now. We’re three lads, a driver and two loaders, and they have all been great. They feel a bit lighter, a bit more lightweight.

“The trial is for our normal bin round. We do the grey and green bins. The recycling crews are also going to have a trial, but not the black bin crews due to the risk from sharp objects.”

Ben Grabham, head of environmental services at City of York Council, said: “The health, safety and well-being of our staff is paramount.

“The reason our waste collection crews wear trousers is to protect them against sharp objects that may be contained in recycling boxes or in bags.

“As outlined previously, we committed to undertake a review of the personal protective equipment worn by collection crews as part of our waste operations.

“As a result of the review, we are trialling the wearing of shorts on collection rounds where there are no bags and therefore the risk of injury from sharp objects.”