SIPTU has said that a proposed Government task force to examine working conditions in the waste disposal industry could change the way the system is organised.

The union wants a review of current conditions of employment in the industry.

SIPTU General President Jack O'Connor said Ireland was one of only a small number of countries in Europe operating private waste collection where the collection was organised on the basis of competition for the market rather than in the market.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, he said if there was competition for the market, the work could be tendered out every five years or so, and companies tendering for that contract would be required to show their capacity to fulfil it.

Mr O'Connor said in Ireland that there is a "race to the bottom".

He said there were 14 separate companies competing with each other operating waste collection in south Dublin alone, and this was not sustainable in the long term.

Mr O'Connor said he had written to Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton yesterday and that the minister had not rejected SIPTU's request for a task force to be set up to look at working conditions in the industry.

Mr O'Connor said another possibility, which could emerge from the task force, is that the minister could ask the Labour Court to investigate the question of the establishment of a Joint Labour Committee to set rates of pay and terms of employment in the industry.

He was commenting in the wake of a dispute at the Greyhound waste management company involving more than 70 SIPTU members over plans to cut wages by up to 35%.

The workers claim they have been locked out of their jobs for refusing to accept the cuts, however the company rejects this.

Mr O'Connor said Greyhound operatives had been paid €14.40 an hour and their pay had now been cut to €9.90 an hour.

He said that was about 14% below the living wage level calculated by a group of charities, unions and other bodies in recent days.