‘Perfect storm’ caused festive bin collection delays in Glasgow

Glasgow council bosses say bin workers are catching up with collections after a union rep claimed a “perfect storm” had caused delays during the festive period.

The city’s cleansing service has been under pressure over Christmas and into the new year due to staff absences.

Chris Mitchell, from the GMB, said rising Covid-19 cases and more workers having to self-isolate, as well as extra waste, are behind the delays.

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He claimed no contingency plan had been put in place and there is a “shocking” lack of testing for bin workers.

What did Glasgow council say?

A council spokesman admitted positive Covid-19 tests have been a contributing factor, along with other illnesses, staff on leave and the additional waste generated over Christmas.

The festive bin collection schedule has been announced.

However, he said the council is “working to a plan that should see the situation dealt with in the coming days”.

The spokesman said: “We are managing all of our available resources to ensure any disruption is kept to a minimum and we catch up from the festive period as quickly as possible.

“Waste will be removed but it may take longer than usual in places. Our household waste centres are open as normal for anyone wishing to dispose of any excess waste.”

What went wrong?

On December 22, the council announced its bulk uplift service would be suspended until Thursday, January 20 at the earliest.

It said the decision had been made due to the “rapid spread” of Covid-19 and the increasing number of staff required to self-isolate. All available resources were to be directed towards collecting household waste and recycling.

Mr Mitchell said: “The absence levels are increasing with self-isolating and Covid cases. That’s why the council suspended the bulk uplift service.

“The problem they have is testing. There is no testing currently within the department. I find it shocking as we are key and critical workers.

“Also this time of the year, and the fact more are working from home so there is more rubbish being generated, makes this a perfect storm.

“There should always be a contingency plan in place for an emergency, this never happened. You cannot cut your way out of a crisis.”

Protecting staff

There is national guidance on testing for care home/home care staff, with one PCR and two lateral flows tests per week, but not for cleansing workers.

The council spokesman added: “We are acquiring testing kits from the workplace testing scheme and these should be available to staff in the next few days.

“Staff can also obtain testing kits personally, either from a local pharmacy or by ordering from the government website.”

He said the council has worked with trade unions throughout the pandemic to develop a wide range of measures to protect staff from the spread of the virus.

“Over the course of the pandemic we have developed a wide range of contingency and business continuity plans to deal with the impact of Covid,” the spokesman added.

“We are implementing contingency plans on a daily basis to ensure that routine household collections services are being maintained.”