THE SIGHT of overflowing rubbish bins has become a depressingly familiar scene in Scotland’s capital recently – and the chaos is now threatening to spiral westwards.
The bin turmoil hitting Edinburgh is set to spread to Glasgow after union bosses said the city’s council workers would go on an indefinite strike in August.
It is thought the city’s hundreds of refuse collectors will be dragged into the strike because they will not cross picket lines.
Union chiefs have admitted the industrial action will have a “catastrophic” effect on Glasgow’s streets.
The strike, led by Unison, GMB and Unite, is over “life-changing” alterations to shift patterns and comes on top of an unofficial strike in Edinburgh which has left residents complaining about the state of the capital’s streets.
Private contractor drafted in
More than 1,000 Edinburgh binmen are working to rule because of changes to the way they are paid which they say will see their wages slashed from £18,000 to just £12,000.
Council bosses in the capital have drafted in a private contractor to help clean the city’s streets as they prepare to welcome hundreds of thousands for the festival season.
Council leader Jenny Dawe said: “It is of the upmost importance that the city is as safe and clean as possible for the festival season.
“Through the range of measures we have put in place, a visible difference in the cleanliness of the city will be obvious immediately.”
She also revealed there have been numerous instances of bins being vandalised and council property damaged during the dispute.
Faith Liddell, director of Festivals Edinburgh, said: “With council employees working normal daytime shifts, and a private contractor in place through the night, the council is now providing a 24/7 operation throughout the festival period for street cleaning and litter bin emptying.
“Effectively, a larger cleaning programme than ever before is now in place for the festivals.
“With these measures in place, and healthy advance sales across the summer festivals, we are confident that everyone will have the enjoyable experience that only Edinburgh and its festivals can deliver year after year.
The announcement of strike action in Glasgow follows months of talks and a ballot between union members.
Health hazard risked by strike
Martin Doran, Scottish organiser of the GMB, said: “The impact on this city is going to be catastrophic with the prospect of rubbish quickly mounting up and uncollected.
“I don’t take any pleasure in this, but this is a recipe for a real health hazard if we don’t get the situation resolved.
“I am making a cry to the council that sanity prevails in this situation and I should point out that our members don’t want to partake in industrial action and lose hard-earned cash, but feel they are being forced to do that.”
Robert Booth, of Glasgow City Council, said: “A strike will inevitably have an impact on the services we deliver, but I can assure the public that we will do everything we can to minimize disruption.”