Mountains of rotting rubbish are piling up 10ft high across Brighton because of an ongoing row between refuse workers on strike and Green councillors, as furious residents slam the ‘hugely powerful’ union bosses who they claim are ‘holding the council over a barrel yet again’.
Heaps of bin bags are being dumped in the street and torn open by rats, foxes and seagulls, with decaying food waste, plastic containers and nappy bags strewn across the seaside town after refuse workers called a two-week strike following the Labour Party Conference.
Dozens of refuse workers from the GMB Union walked out as part of industrial action last Tuesday and are urging the Green-led council to fix pay and working conditions.
However, talks collapsed into acrimony last night as council officials claimed GMB bosses stormed out of the meeting while union members threatened further industrial action – meaning 120,000 households may not have their bins collected until at least mid-November.
Councillors urged GMB to think again and insisted higher pay had been offered in a ‘positive attempt to recognise the hard work’ of bin men. But GMB official Mark Turner claimed the latest offer had ‘gone backwards’ from the previous one and accused the council of issuing ‘propaganda’.
In a desperate move, the council has issued advice to all residents asking them to break down boxes and cartons and store waste in their homes until the dispute is settled. However, the dispute has sparked anger among locals and demands for an independent mediator to step in amid fears for public health.
‘The risk to public health is extremely worrying as vermin is everywhere. The GMB is hugely powerful in Brighton and Hove and it is holding the council over a barrel yet again,’ one resident said.
Mountains of rotting rubbish are piling up 10ft high across Brighton because of a row between truck workers on strike and Green councillors which has rumbled on for the past week
Heaps of stinking bin bags are being dumped in the street and torn open by rats, foxes and seagulls
Dozens of refuse workers from the GMB Union walked out as part of industrial action last Tuesday
Another resident said: ‘This is a public health risk and, on this basis alone, there should be decisive intervention to rid the streets of rubbish. I saw rats at dawn scurrying away from overflowing bins in Hove.
‘Another lamentable failure by public health officialdom in this city.’
Nick Hibberd, council executive director for economy, environment and culture, said: ‘To provide the best service for the city and to support staff, there are occasions where it is felt appropriate to make crew changes, or move a member of staff from one round or crew to another.
‘Changes are requested to prioritise areas where rubbish and recycling has unfortunately built up due to unavoidable staff shortages, vehicle breakdowns or for performance reasons.’
The two parties have been involved in talks to try and break the deadlock but they have failed to come to a compromise.
A tweet from the GMB Sussex branch at the weekend, said: ‘We have given them the solutions and how to get the workforce back. We are still waiting for their official response we are available any time any place anywhere.’
People struggle to find a pathway through the mountains of rubbish piled up in Montpelier Crescent in Brighton
The affluent Seven Dials area is affected as well as the rest of Brighton by the ongoing bin men strike
Yesterday Labour politicians called for an independent mediator to be brought it to resolve the dispute.
Councillors on the Labour group said: ‘With the bin strike having been ongoing for almost a week now, and rubbish and recycling piling up on the streets of Brighton and Hove with residents suffering, Labour are keen to find a solution to end the dispute.’
Councillor John Allcock, co-leader of the opposition, said: ‘The previous Labour administration succeeded in avoiding strike action by keeping lines of communication open, negotiating and when necessary bringing in an independent mediator to help resolve disputes.
‘This is what we are calling on the Green administration to do now. Bring in an independent expert who has the trust and respect of both parties to help end the strike in the interests of residents.’
However, Mr Turner said: ‘They presented their offer which we left on the basis it’s gone backwards. It’s worse than the situation we started in. They need to improve the offer. They’re not even meeting us halfway.’
Source: Daily Mail UK