Edinburgh’s rubbish mountains bring value of waste workers ‘into sharp focus’

·2-min read

The leader of Edinburgh Council has said the mountains of rubbish on its streets has brought “into sharp focus” the value of its waste and cleaning workers.

Waste workers in the city walked out on August 18 as part of their pay protest with local government, but as strikes are spreading across Scotland’s councils, workers in the capital are to return to their bin lorries and street sweepers on Tuesday.

Cammy Day, leader of City of Edinburgh Council, said: “The dispute has brought the value of our waste and cleansing teams, and their right to a fair wage, into sharp focus, and I’m delighted they’ll be back out from Tuesday, helping return our city to its best.”

Cleansing workers strike
Rubbish mountains in Edinburgh as workers strike (Jane Barlow/PA)

The strike by workers in Edinburgh was timed to coincide with the busy Festival season, and rubbish has lined the streets ever since.

Bags of waste have piled up in the centre, with loose rubbish left on top of, and next to, bins, for it to be blown down the street, leaving usually picturesque tourist hotspots looking more like landfill sites.

Public Health Scotland has warned the build-up of waste could “become a risk to human health”, and told councils that “decontamination of public areas where bins have overflowed may be required”.

Cleansing workers strike
Bins and litter along South Bridge in Edinburgh (Jane Barlow/PA)

Discussions between the unions and council umbrella body Cosla continue. Unite, Unison and GMB have previously turned down a pay rise offer of 5%.

Mr Day said he was pressing the Scottish Government for an “acceptable settlement”.

“As I’ve said throughout, I fully respect the right of our colleagues to take this action and have their voices heard,” he said.

“As a trade union member myself, I’ve joined the picket lines in support of fair pay for our workforce and will do so again.”

The strike in Edinburgh is expected to end at 4.59am on Tuesday, and the council said additional resources were being deployed to help clean up the city.