Glasgow residents are facing a public and environmental health crisis as a result of overflowing recycling bins according to a leading trade union.
The GMB branch 40 has raised concerns about contaminated waste in the back courts of some East End properties, namely Altyre Street, Wellshot Road and Shettleston Street.
Members claim that they were instructed by the city council to focus on collected domestic waste over the festive season which has meant recycling bins have not been emptied as frequently.
As a result it seems some residents have been disposing of all their waste in the recycling bins resulting in contamination.
The local authority says paper, card and cans can all sit “indefinitely” without causing an issue and that despite the trade union’s claims, contaminated blue bins are collected but the rubbish is treated as general waste.
But GMB convenor Chris Mitchell says recycling bins are now “severely contaminated”.
Chris Mitchell said: “Residents are now using every bin to get rid of their waste – it is just human nature. The festive plan has failed.
“Residents are asking us when the bins are going to be emptied again and what is going on with the recycling. The public are taking their anger out on the frontline workers who are trying their best to get to the rubbish as quickly as possible.
“This has become a public and environmental health hazard. It is putrid waste that is lying there which means there is more danger to the public and there is more danger to our members.
“We have given ideas to the council before it got to this stage but they didn’t listen. We are urging the council to listen to the trade union and its members who don’t want to go and face this everyday.
“If we have an idea please listen to us as it is going to benefit the city and our workers.
“The GMB has raised concerns this problem will get worse and become a public and environmental hazard and want to sit down with the council again to come up with a solution that will benefit its members and the public moving forward.”
The GMB is asking that the council includes them in part of their festive plans so they can “bounce” ideas off each other.
They are also asking for more PPE, including needle protective gloves, to be offered to staff as well as more washing up time after a shift between November and March as dirt increases before and after Christmas.
Glasgow City Council says that trade unions are consulted on the council’s festive plan and that the GMB is represented at the health and safety group that considers what PPE to use.
The local authority says there are three needle stick injuries annually in the context of 19 million household collections annually and bin staff are told not to pick up needles in back courts and instead report incidents to their supervisor.
Depot managers can also offer flexibility on wash-up time depending on the circumstances.
A spokesman for the council said: “We are in regular contact with the trade union on how to address the delays currently affecting bin collections.
“All available resources are being deployed to ensure the collection service returns to the regular schedule as quickly as possible.
“It is normal for the service to be affected by the festive holidays, but collections have also been disrupted by staff sickness, annual leave and the recent adverse weather.
“However, the current time frames for catching up from the festive period are in line with previous years.
“To assist the effort to catch-up on collections, staff have been offered overtime, colleagues from other parts of the service have been redeployed temporarily and, where appropriate, agency staff brought in.
“Blue bin waste will continue to be taken away for recycling and any contamination will be removed as normal.
“We apologise for any inconvenience caused by the current delays to household collections.”
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