A binman who claimed he was banned from wearing a shorts on ‘health and safety’ grounds by bosses has completed his rounds in a hi vis kilt.
Lee Moran mounted his striking protest as temperatures soared above 25c after bosses at York City Council told him he had to remain covered up.
The dad-of-three had campaigned to wear shorts for years in the height of summer but was always told that health and safety rules didn’t permit it.
But when 50-year-old Lee found out this wasn’t true, he claims his managers confessed they’d actually prevented binmen from wearing shorts to protect their ‘public image’.
Bizarrely, one manager did say that ‘kilts’ were permitted, so on Monday, he donned a fluorescent orange kilt in protest at their cold-hearted policy.
Lee said the response to his protest had been ‘absolutely amazing’ and he hoped to convince the council to change its approach before the temperatures rise next week.
He said: “For the last five years, I’ve been asking about wearing shorts, and they’ve just slung health and safety at me left right and centre.
“But one of the managers approached me and said ‘look, Lee, you can wear a kilt. There’s nothing about wearing a kilt’.
“So I waited until the temperature reached over 25c, and Monday was the perfect opportunity for it.
He added: “The public response has been absolutely amazing, and I’ve even had some City of York councillors ring me and message me saying, “We’re right behind you.”
Lee 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 recently 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?’
“I said, ‘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.
He added: “My workmates are all for it and that. They loved it.”
Lee, who at sites works across the city of York, Monday to Friday, said a lot of local residents had sympathised 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 he hoped that York City Council would change their policy, especially as another nearby local authority was letting their binmen ditch their trousers.
But he had concerns they weren’t acting fast enough, with thermostats set to rise above 40c next week in some parts of the country.
He said: “They’ve phoned Scarborough council, just 40 miles from us. They’re allowed to wear shorts, so they’ve asked them about their short policy.
“And basically, they’ve gone out and got some shorts from suppliers, so hopefully, we’ll get a review.
“However, the health and safety manager just happens to be away on holiday this week.
“We’re saying we need this now – we don’t want to be waiting another week, it’s going to be red hot next week.
“They said, ‘these things take time’, but we haven’t got time. The weather isn’t going to wait for us.”
Ben Grabham, head of environmental services at City of York Council, told the Mirror: “We’re all experiencing hot weather at the moment so can sympathise with anyone working in the direct sun.
“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.
“We appreciate that working outdoors at this moment is very warm and we’re supporting our crews who are encouraged to take regular rest breaks and wear hats and sun cream that they are provided with.
“We’re undertaking a review of all our operations in extreme weather with our health and safety team, but we’re not sure a kilt will necessarily be the right option for our staff.”