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Edinburgh residents warned of bin collection chaos amid strikes during Fringe

(David Cheskin/PA)
(David Cheskin/PA)

Residents in the Scottish capital have been warned about “significant disruption” in the city as council workers go on strike this week.

The industrial action comes as crowds descend on Edinburgh’s streets during the August Fringe festival, the city’s busiest month of the year.

An improved offer was made by local authority body Cosla on Friday, after an initial 2% pay increase was rejected.

Its new proposal included an offer equivalent to a 3.5% increase.

Unions have rejected the revised offer outright and voted overwhelmingly to continue with their strike plans at councils across Scotland.

GMB members in Edinburgh’s waste and recycling service have scheduled strike action from Thursday this week until the August 30.

They will be joined by further strike action from workers in waste and recycling services across Scottish local government on August 26 and 29 as well as between September 7-10.

Edinburgh City Council said it is anticipating all bin collections and street cleaning in the city will be affected in the coming weeks.

The Scottish capital’s three recycling centres will be closed and bulky uplift and flytipping services will also be paused as a result of the action.

Council leader Cammy Day said: “It’s now looking increasingly likely that industrial action will go ahead here in Edinburgh and in other cities across the country.

“Together with my fellow council leaders, I’ll continue to press the Scottish Government to resolve this as quickly as possible.

“I firmly believe that all council colleagues deserve to be paid fairly for the work they do and have every right to take this action and have their voices heard.

“As the lowest funded council in Scotland, it’s time for the Scottish Government to properly fund our Capital city and its services.”

He said the council is already developing a recovery plan for clean ups to begin as soon as possible after the strike action end.

The council has published advice and guidance to help residents manage the impact, asking them to check the dedicated pages on the council’s website and social media channels for advice on how to manage their waste safely and responsibly during the strike.

Mr Day added: “We’re also reaching out to our tenants and housing associations, businesses, festivals and other partners asking them to share our messaging and provide whatever support they can during this busy and important time for our capital city.”

Last week Cosla resources spokeswoman Katie Hagmann said she had been mandated to make an offer that raises the Scottish local government living wage to £10.50.

She said: “Leaders have reaffirmed their aspiration to make an offer greater than the initial 2% but note the risk that public services will not recover, jobs will be affected and communities will see services reduced as local government budgets are unable to sustain the long-term pressures they have been under.

She said Cosla continues to call on the Scottish Government to provide funding and flexibilities to enable an offer beyond the money provided to date.

The Scottish Government said it expected local government to match a £140 million contribution to help them give staff a bigger pay rise.

A spokesperson said: “As the employers, these pay negotiations are a matter for local authorities and unions – the Scottish Government has no formal role.

“We urge Cosla to urgently reconsider its position and match the Scottish Government’s additional £140 million that would be required to increase the pay offer to 5%.

“The Scottish Government must balance a fixed budget with very significant competing demands as a consequence of the cost-of-living crisis and the inaction of the UK Government.

“The main tax levers are set for the whole year and cannot be changed. With no power to borrow for this spend, the extra £140 million has got to come from somewhere else within the budget and no more funding can be offered.”

The UK Government’s Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has been approached for comment.